Spring is finally here and it’s time to start planning that road trip! And you can bet that loads of other people are also planning their trips and that leads to more cars on the road and an increased risk of car accidents. Doing a little pre-trip planning may reduce your chances of having your trip ruined by a car accident.
First on your “to-do” list should be vehicle maintenance. A maintenance check should include:
- Changing the oil
- Checking the coolant
- Check headlight, brake and signal lights
- Check tire tread and pressure
- Check brakes
As the driver, you need to be healthy and alert. Make sure you get plenty of sleep before departing on your trip. Just as important as ample rest are the routes you’ll be traveling. Map out your routes and familiarize yourself as much as possible with the roads you’ll be travelling. And don’t forget about the weather. Check the weather each day before you depart so that you aren’t caught by surprise.
Practice safe driving on the trip. Do:
- Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you
- Obey the traffic laws and speed limits
- Stay focused on the road and pull over if drowsy. Rest areas are a great place to stretch and get in a dozen or so jumping jacks!
- Trade off driving every few hours
- Never text and avoid using cell phones while driving
- Keep your gas tank at least a quarter full at all times, this should leave you a good 100 or so miles in the tank in case you run into unforeseen roadblocks or detours.
In addition to the points above, it’s always a good idea to keep your doors locked and to stay on main roads and highways. Shortcuts on unknown roads can lead to trouble. And when stopping for any reason (restrooms, snacks, gas, etc.), never let your children go to the restroom alone. If you leave your car for even a minute, lock your doors and take your cell phone with you.
It’s impossible to know what’s around the next bend… a flash flood could have washed out a road… or an 18-wheeler may have overturned. You may get stuck in a lengthy delay. Bottom line is to be prepared for unexpected events. It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit, a blanket, water, snacks and a flashlight in your vehicle. If you need prescription medication, keep an extra supply with you in the car.
If your vehicle does break down, move it off the road safely away from traffic. AAA suggests that you and your passengers remain in the car, with the doors locked and only roll down the window enough to ask for help from anyone approaching your vehicle. However, if you can’t move your car off the road, you and your passengers should exit the vehicle and stand safely away from traffic. Raise the hood on your vehicle to warn other drivers that your vehicle has broken down and wait for help.
Enjoy planning your trip, take every precaution to stay safe and if you should be involved in a car accident, stay calm, check on your passengers, call the police and then call your personal injury attorney for advice.