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Apr-09-2017 23:05printcomments

Safety Advice When on a Road Trip

Plan ahead and your summer road trips will be lots more fun!

Oregon I-5 south
Oregon, going south.
Photo: Bonnie King, Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - The beloved American road trip is as popular today as it has ever been. Though many people jet off to foreign destinations for their yearly vacations, there are still plenty of adventurous individuals seeking a way to explore the open road.

As the weather improves, there's no better time to gather up the family and embark on a drive. However, whether you're heading somewhere nearby, or taking a more long-haul trip, it's important to make sure that you're prepared to stay safe.

From flat tires, to getting lost, major crashes and breakdowns, and even falling asleep at the wheel, road trips come with a unique collection of concerns to worry about, and being prepared is the best way to ensure that you're less likely to encounter trouble.

Follow this safety advice, and you should be equipped to protect yourself and your family during your next adventure.

Plan ahead

The first step in staying safe on the American roads involves planning your route. Knowing where you're going to go, which roads are safest, and which might be exposed to construction works can increase your chances of a more efficient drive.

Map out the route to your destination in advance, well before your trip, and make sure that you stay up to date with any potential obstacles that might block your way.

If you're concerned that roadworks may make a certain patch of the drive more difficult, try to find an alternate way around.

Examine your car

Being safe on the road is partially to do with your own driving skills and preparation, but it's worth noting that the state of your car is also crucial. Check to make sure that your car is roadworthy with a quick maintenance appointment at your local garage, or by examining the vehicle yourself.

You should make sure to check tread levels, tire pressure, oil levels, wiper blades, and fluid levels. If you need to top anything off, or replace anything, then don't wait until after your trip to do it.

Particularly for long-haul trips, your vehicle needs to be in excellent condition to avoid accidents.

Get plenty of rest before your trip

Driving while tired is incredibly dangerous. Each year, drowsy drivers contribute to around 1,500 fatal accidents on the road. The more exhausted you are, the less likely you are to react quickly in an emergency and make good decisions.

Studies show that being awake for more than 18 hours causes your brain to function similarly to someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05%.

It isn't just a lack of sleep that can contribute to bad driving. Consuming certain medications can make you sleepy, and boredom can also cause problems.

If you're starting to feel more exhausted by the mile, you might need to stop and stretch your legs, or switch with someone who's more refreshed.

Gear up before your trip

Any long-haul trip or family road trip should come with an emergency kit, including a variety of different tools and solutions to fix your car and get you moving again when things go wrong. Ensure that your kit includes jumper cables, flash lights, and the tools required to change a tire, including a tire pump.

Speaking of tires, make sure that you know how to change your spare. Every year in the US, reports emerge of around 220 million flat tires. If you've never had to change a spare yourself, you can always watch videos online that will help you.

Remember, gear might also include carrying fuel for your car, and your stomach. Make sure that you have a spare gas can on board, and plenty of provisions for the entire family, including drinks and healthy foods to keep everyone happy.

Carry a first aid kit

Emergencies that occur on road trips aren't always limited to a flat tire. If you're in a severe accident, you will need to call for professional help from the emergency services, but you can carry a first aid kit with you that helps you to offer pain relief and comfort to people in your vehicle.

Your first aid kit should include warm blankets in case your battery dies in the middle of nowhere and you need to stay heated, water, flares, and a range of essential medications.

Have your GPS handy

Knowing where you're headed is crucial when it comes to a successful road trip. If you end up getting lost, then you could find yourself stuck in a dangerous place, or struggling to find your way again.

By mapping your course before you head off, and keeping your GPS firmly by your side, you should be able to stay on track throughout the whole course of your journey.

Another good plan is to consider taking screenshots of your direction in case your battery dies or your phone runs out of signal. This way, you can make sure that you don't lose your idea of where you're going at your next crucial turn or exit.

Have an SOS solution on speed dial

If you take enough road trips, you'll learn that sooner or later you'll find yourself getting stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

This means that having an SOS number on hand that you can call to get towed or get some help sent directly to your location could be something that saves you a lot of stress and hassle. It could even shield you from various road dangers that no one ever wants to encounter.

Staying safe on your road trip

There are plenty of dangers to think about when you're planning a road trip, either alone or with your entire family. However, that doesn't mean that you should avoid road trips altogether.

Some of the best memories come from road trips, and it's important to make sure that you're prepared to enjoy the best tourist attractions, views, and roadside diners when the occasion calls for it.

If you follow the advice above, you should have a better chance of limiting the risks and dangers associated with your average road adventure.

Source: Salem-News.com Special Features Dept.

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