With the holidays right around the corner, many Americans will be hitting the road to see their family and friends. In fact, 91% of us will travel by car during the holidays – as opposed to only 6% by air. And many of these trips aren’t close to home either. According to the Bureau of Transportation, long distance travel (to and from distance of 50+ miles total) increases by 23% of the average rate during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period (Source). If your family is taking a road trip this holiday season, you’ll need to be prepared for increased traffic and possibly winter weather road conditions – especially in the Midwest. To help make sure you and your family are ready to make a safe journey, Sandvik Insurance Agency presents our 7 best road trip safety tips:
1.) Get a Tune-Up
If you haven’t had your car in for its regular maintenance in a few months, make sure it’s ready to go for your trip – and winter in general. Having your car break down during the winter is something no driver wants to experience, so you’ll want to make sure your car is in tip-top shape before hitting the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends having your tires, battery, fluids, and defrost mode checked by a qualified mechanic before any particularly long distance winter road trips.
2.) Create an Emergency Safety Kit
Though you might have some jumper cables and some tools for the spare tire in your trunk, you could end up needing a lot more if you get stranded on the side of the road this winter. Apart from the jumper cables, make sure you have:
· Small supply of food (protein bars are great!)
· Road flares
· First-aid kit
· Small snow shovel
Call 911 in case of an emergency, but a kit like this should get you through most small problems.
3.) Clear the Backseat
If you’re travelling with children, you’ll want to make sure the backseats are clear of any dangerous items or choking hazards before they’re spending hours of time back there. In addition, if you’re using a car or booster seat, make sure it’s installed properly as 73% are not. Make sure the kids have something to keep them occupied and leave you undistracted to focus on the road.
4.) Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Before you hit the road for your long trip, make sure you’ve hit the hay long enough too. The NHTSA estimates that roughly 100,000 crashes per year are the result of drowsiness and driver fatigue, resulting in more than 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths (Source). Don’t put your family at risk from drowsy driving; make sure you’re well rested and energized before taking the wheel.
5.) Review Your Directions Before Leaving
To help make sure you’re as focused as possible when you’re on the road, make sure you’ve reviewed your directions before you leave. Don’t just rely on a GPS to get you to your destination – review your route beforehand forany tricky route changes or construction zones that could slow you down. This way, if you come up on a detour you won’t be stressed or flustered, and can focus 100% on the road.
6.) Don’t Use Your Cell Phone!
As you should know by now, using your cell phone while driving can be one of the most dangerous things you can do. In fact, talking on a cell phone has been shown to make drivers 4x more likely to get in a car accident, with texting while driving making drivers 23x more likely to crash (Source)! Rather than putting your own and your passengers’ lives at risk, designate the front passenger to be your co-pilot, and have them handle all of your phone duties. This way you can stay focused on driving, and respond to your calls and texts at a safe time.
7.) Make Frequent Stops/Split Driving Duties
In addition to making sure you’re well rested before hitting the road, make the trip easier on yourself by splitting it into manageable chunks with frequent rest, gas, and food breaks. Drivers can easily get fatigued when driving for long periods of time, so these breaks will help keep you energized and fresh. If possible, split driving duties with other passengers to help disperse the responsibility.
There are many things you need to be prepared for when taking a long distance road trip – especially during the holiday season. With so many drivers on the roads and winter weather driving conditions likely, it’s only a recipe for accidents. To help make sure you and family avoid these accidents and arrive at your destination as safely as possible, Sandvik Insurance Agency hopes you remember to keep these tips in mind before setting out for your holiday trip. For more information about travel tips and safe driving, please contact your local independent insurance agent today!