Staying Safe on Summer Road Trips
The world has had one primary focus regarding health and safety over the past year: avoiding COVID-19. While this forced many people to stay in their homes and off the roads, it also increased the instances of road violations. For those able to avoid getting behind the wheel, that is still the safest option for avoiding an accident. However, most people can’t avoid driving forever.
As vaccination rates increase and the country begins to open up this summer, drivers need to reorient themselves to auto and traffic safety precautions. Personal vehicles are still the safest mode of transportation to avoid crowded and crammed public transit. When planning a summer road trip, it is vital to keep safety at the forefront of travel planning.
Prepare For the Worst Weather
Depending on where you are traveling, severe weather could occur at any time. Some places are more likely to experience extreme weather during the summer months, especially along the coast. Looking ahead at both where you are going and the route you will be taking will help determine a timeline for the trip and help mentally prepare you for the difficulties that accompany driving through rough conditions.
One of the great benefits of traveling in your personal vehicle is the flexibility it offers. Avoiding unclear weather conditions can be possible if you are willing to adjust departure plans. Additionally, creating a backup plan in the case of an emergency is also helpful, especially for those less comfortable in low visibility situations such as rain storms or fog. In some cases, purchasing equipment like new tires, tire chains, or windshield rain repellant could be helpful in preventing any mishaps.
Make Sure the Car is Safe and Ready
Many areas across the U.S. extended deadlines for vehicle registration earlier in the pandemic, but many of those pushed deadlines have passed. Before heading for the open road, verify your vehicle is registered and up to date on emissions testing, oil changes, and routine safety checks.
If traveling with children, check for proper installation and sizing of car seats to protect them best. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are good sources to verify car seat options and safety recommendations.
Traffic safety regulations and automobile safety features exist to protect passengers. Road trip safety begins with packing and preparing for any outcome. Seatbelts are the best way to protect passengers in the case of a car crash as they prevent riders from being expelled from the car or hurt due to crashes.
Pack Your Back Up Plan
Remembering to pack chargers and jumper cables is important for a long trip. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some essential items to keep on hand include jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge, windshield wiper fluid, flares, blankets, flashlights, and portable cell phone chargers. They do take up extra space, but preparation and planning are always good ideas.
Get Good Rest!
Often underestimated, drowsy driving is a serious safety threat. Similar to driving under the influence, driving while experiencing extreme fatigue can lead to dangerous situations when drivers are not responsive or attentive.
“Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as distracted or impaired driving,” says Bennet Schiller of Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm. “Many drivers are unaware of the threat and fail to recognize signs of fatigue.” It’s a good idea to get at least seven hours of sleep and avoid getting behind the wheel if you feel tired. Don’t be afraid to push back the trip for a couple more hours of sleep if it could mean the difference between a safe trip and an accident.
Keep Public Health in Mind
While vaccines continue to become widely available, it is important not to forget to adhere to public safety regulations. Traveling by car can be safer compared to other options such as flying if crowded, unsanitary areas are still avoided and masks are worn to avoid virus transmission. Drive-thru, take out, or homemade meals are recommended to avoid indoor dining.
Discussing restaurant and lodging options during road trip planning is also a good idea to verify safe destinations for family accommodations along the way. Calling ahead or searching online is a great way to get educated on local laws and check that businesses follow protocols before arriving. Keep in mind that COVID-19 is still a prevalent threat, and many areas are experiencing and responding to their situations differently than others.
To ensure a safe and uninterrupted trip this summer, remember all driving rules and regulations, plan thoroughly, verify passengers’ safety, and follow COVID-19 protocols. If drivers follow these steps, summer road trips can help make this summer worth the wait!