Taking a Road Trip? 10 Tips to Stay Safe on the Road

It’s finally here — Labor Day weekend! This is one of the heaviest travel weekends of the entire year. Last year, AAA predicted there would be more than 34 million people travelling across the country that weekend — and 85% of them are driving.

Unfortunately, more people on the road means more car accidents. These accidents can lead to serious injury, which can cause permanent disability or worse. But there are many things you can do to keep you and your family safe on the road! Here are 10 tips to be sure to follow.

Get your car checked out: As our beloved Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Get your car and tires checked out. Make sure the air pressure in your tires and your spare are good. Confirm the a/c is in good shape because a stuffy car ride is a recipe for disaster!

Don’t just power through: 11 hours is the maximum you should be driving a day– period. Professional truckers are not supposed to drive more than 11 hours in a 14 hour workday, so neither should you! Share the driving responsibilities with someone else if possible. This will help everyone stay rested and be alert drivers. If you can’t share the responsibility, don’t just power through. Find a place to stay over night that’s on your route.

Gimmie a break: Take breaks. I know, I know, you just want to get there…. but you need to break every every 3-4 hours for 15-30 minutes, even if you do not feel sleepy. Why? To help prevent mental fatigue and blood clots. According to The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), you should walk, stretch, and/or pump your ankles every 4 hours to prevent blood clots.

Refrain from using your cruise control: Having to concentrate on maintaining your speed will help you stay attentive to the road!

Eat, drink (responsibly) and be merry: A car full of full and hydrated passengers means less crankiness! Before your trip, stock up on snacks and drinks at grocery stores rather than gas stations or rest stops. This simple action will help your health and wallet. Skip the junk food and limit the caffeine to avoid energy crashes. And, of course, it should go without saying that you should avoid alcohol. To avoid distracted driving, only enjoy your store bought snacks at rest stops and breaks.

Don’t rely solely on a GPS: A GPS is a must-have for any road trip, but technology always breaks down at the worst time possible. Let’s avoid panic attacks and bring the good old map and printed out directions!

Bring a basic emergency/repair kit: Bring a first-aid kit, blankets, flashlight, protein bars, water, umbrellas, notepad, pens, and toilet paper. For a car repair kit, see this list.

Going up a hill or mountain? Slow down! Your engine is working a lot harder to get your car up a hill or mountain. If you slow down, you will reduce your risk for over-heating, save on the car’s wear and tear, and improve your gas mileage.

Don’t wait until you see E to get gas! You never know when the next gas station is going to be.  Fill up at a quarter of a tank. Being stranded on a highway is not how you want to spend your vacation.

Buckle up! Wear your seat belt. Seriously. Last year, The National Safety Council estimated wearing seat belts could have saved nearly 150 lives over Labor Day weekend alone. Don’t risk your safety in the name of comfort.

Any more tips to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Have a fun and safe Labor Day weekend!

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