Preparing for a Safe Summer Road Trip

Summer was made for family road trips.  After all, what better way to bring the family together, explore the country and share the spirit of adventure while travelling the open road?  

Of course, your last name doesn’t have to be Griswold to know a lot can go wrong … really wrong … on the highway.  But with proper planning, you can help ensure happy vacation memories for you and your family.  Before you embark on your epic journey, consider these 10 tips for a safe, and fun, summer road trip.     

Before you go

Service your car.  Give your car a check-up and get it “road-ready” before you head out.  Make sure tires are in good shape and properly inflated, wiper blades are in working order, air conditioning is functioning properly, fluids are topped off and belts and hoses are in good condition.  Also, check all your lights and turn signals.       

Safeguard your home.  Don’t invite a break-in while you’re away.  Before you go, put valuables in a secure place.  Consider leaving a light and radio or television on to simulate regular activity.  Make arrangements to have your mail picked up or delivery stopped while you’re gone.  And wait until you’re back before posting those vacation photos on Facebook.

Pack properly.  If you’re road tripping with little ones, make sure you have any required car seats and they are properly installed.  You’ll also need plenty of snacks and drinks for the ride.  And, don’t forget any medications, sunscreen, insect repellent, garbage bags, paper towels, etc., that may be needed.

Plan your itinerary.  Know your route and destination before you leave the driveway.  While portable GPS devices and smart phones can help you plan your stops and track your route in real-time, it’s also a good idea to have a paper map as a back-up.  Give yourself plenty of time in case of road construction or traffic delays. 

Have a roadside emergency kit ready.  Even with the best planning, sometimes, well, stuff happens.  Stock an emergency kit with all the essentials.  Even though we hope you never use it, it’s the most important luggage you’ll pack for the trip.  Double-check that you have a spare tire in good condition and tire-changing tools in case of a flat.  Keep your cell phone charged in case you need to call for help.  

On the road

Stay alert.  Make sure you and your family reach your destination safe and sound.  Don’t spend too long driving each day or skip on sleep at night to make up time tomorrow.  Take frequent stops to avoid fatigue while driving and to let children run around for a few minutes.  Many rest areas have picnic facilities, and even playgrounds, and useful tourist information.  Also, consider an alternate driver to take turns behind the wheel. 

Avoid distractions.  Avoid using the cell phone while driving; aside from being unsafe, it may be illegal where you’re travelling.  Have a few key items such as books and iPads or other portable devices handy to keep passengers occupied and help avoid the “Are we there yet?” syndrome.  Keep items not in use packed securely and out of the drier’s line of sight. 

Practice passenger safety.  Keep young children in car seats, and make sure everyone is buckled properly in seatbelts. Keep the doors locked while your vehicle is moving, and keep windows near children rolled up and locked.  Never leave children or pets unattended in a parked vehicle.  

Drive defensively.  Your destination isn’t moving, so why be in a hurry to get there?  Stick to the speed limit, and stay in the right lane except to pass.  Summer weather also means more motorcycles and recreational vehicles on the road – give them all plenty of space on the highway.   

Enjoy the drive.  Make time for unplanned activities along the way.  Exploring scenic overlooks, roadside attractions and local diners can be just as fun and rewarding as your destination.  Stay relaxed, and don’t stick too tightly to your agenda.  Remember, getting there is half the fun!


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