During the summer months, a road trip almost seems like a necessary rite of passage for drivers young and old. AAA estimates that four-in-ten adults plan to take trips during the year, with 68% of these family travelers making their trip during summer vacation. With the school-year closing out, it isn’t surprising that many parents plan their vacations around this time of year. While road trips are associated with great memories and fun, improper preparation can lead to stressful situations that impact the whole trip.
Road Trip Dangers
Road trips pose the same general risks as driving on the road. However, they involve much more highway travel at high speeds than typical travel. On the freeway, several complications could get in the way of a flawless road trip.
- Contextual incidents – Contextual incidents involve random accidents, like flat tires, caused by issues or obstacles on the road. Running out of gas can also be a contextual incident if the driver doesn’t check how long a stretch of road is before the next gas station.
- Highway traffic – Highway traffic can be dangerous when drivers don’t follow basic safety practices. For example, rear-end collisions are caused by speeding cars that weave in-and-out of traffic. If these drivers slam on their brakes after miscalculating their speed, they can cause collisions. Truck-related incidents also cause dangerous collisions in congested areas or when they attempt to overtake other trucks by merging into faster lanes.
- Driver distraction – Distracted driving is a dangerous, self-caused issue that can occur during long-drawn trips. Sleepiness, talking with other passengers, or navigating through your playlist can all cause car accidents by taking your attention away from the roadway.
How to Prepare for Your Road Trip
Preparation is necessary before starting your road trip, especially during the hot summer months. Pre-trip planning is essential to prevent completely avoidable accidents that can add hours to days onto your trip.
- Visit a mechanic – Before trusting your car to traverse potentially hundreds of miles, make sure your car is equipped to handle the trip. Take your car to the mechanic to check the following components: your car’s oil level, the air in your car’s tires, your tires’ tread, and your car’s battery level. Making sure your car is in running condition can prevent car malfunction during your trip.
- Plan your trip beforehand – Though it might seem fun to exercise spontaneity during a summer road trip, this isn’t always the best course of action. It’s best not only to know where you’re going for fun, but to plan your overnight stops and gas station exits based on your car’s mileage. Always keep a viable form of direction, like a map or GPS system, on hand just in case you need to make emergency stops.
- Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car – You should always keep an emergency kit in your car even when you’re not taking a road trip. Fully equipped emergency kits include: an extra tire, a jack to replace a tire, an air pressure gauge, jumper cables, a basic tool set, and a life hammer. A life hammer can tear seatbelts and break windows in the case of emergencies.
- Pack beforehand – Gather everything you need within the week before your trip. Do not leave everything to the last minute before a big trip – it’s easy to forget small, but important details that could impact your trip in the future.
- Know your passengers’ details – If you’re road-tripping with friends this summer, make sure you know their insurance details and whether they’re stashing illegal substances. Even though you may be the designated driver on your road trip, remember that open container and possession laws still apply.
Before taking off this summer, remember to follow these safety tips to ensure your trip runs smoothly.