Essential Safety Tips for a U.S. Road Trip

Going on a road trip across the United States can be an incredible and memorable experience. Whether you’re trying to see new places or traveling across state lines to go to a music festival, you’re likely to experience some amazing locations, people, and events. However, before setting out on your grand adventure, it’s vital to prepare for your trip ahead of time. By ensuring your vehicle is ready for the road trip and taking some basic safety precautions, you can have the most safe and enjoyable travel experience possible. 

Preparing Your Vehicle for the Journey

Before you even leave your home, you need to confirm that your car is in good condition. If you haven’t had your car inspected recently, have it checked out by a certified mechanic to address any undetected problems. Your mechanic should carefully check tire pressure, fluid levels (oil, coolant, etc.), brakes, and lights. Nothing ruins a trip as thoroughly as a crash and subsequent car accident lawsuit!

Packing an Emergency Kit for Peace of Mind

Anytime you anticipate spending a considerable amount of time in your vehicle, you should pack an emergency kit of essential items that can be of use in an emergency. Some items you should include are sealed bottles of water, non-perishable snacks, a first-aid kit, a spare tire and jack, jumper cables, a multi-tool, and warm clothing and blankets. You may consider purchasing a roadside assistance membership as well, for additional peace of mind.

Planning Your Route

It goes without saying, but you should plan your route ahead of time. Modern navigation tools like GPS devices and smartphone mapping apps can help you pick out conveniently-placed gas stations, rest stops, and points of interest along the way. Account for estimated travel times and desired stopping points during your planning, so you can stick to a reasonable schedule.

While a detailed itinerary can be quite helpful, being flexible is a good skill to have for frequent travelers. Be prepared with alternative routes in case of weather-related road closures, traffic delays, or construction work. Adaptability allows you to efficiently adjust your plans as needed and potentially find cool places to explore during your trip. 

Essential Tips for Staying Safe on the Road

Anytime you’re on the road, you should practice the principles of defensive driving. Don’t tailgate other vehicles and always maintain a safe following distance, so you can adjust to sudden traffic stoppages or emergencies. Maintain awareness of the road, so you can effectively adjust to potential hazards like reckless drivers, road debris, and merging vehicles. Avoid distractions while driving, such as eating or using a cellphone. Be mindful of weather conditions that your vehicle may not be equipped to safely handle.

Taking regular breaks is crucial, especially on long journeys. Exhaustion can slow your reaction time and make it challenging to focus, which significantly increases the chances of a crash occurring. Plan regular stops into your trip to reduce fatigue, ideally at 2-hour intervals. You can stretch your legs, grab a non-alcoholic drink, or have a snack to keep yourself alert. 

How to Effectively Handle Roadside Emergencies 

In case of a mechanical issue or breakdown, having roadside assistance coverage can be a lifesaver. Some insurance companies offer roadside assistance as a part of their policies, allowing you to take advantage of this perk in times of need. If your insurance provider does not offer roadside assistance in your policy, it may be worth purchasing a standalone membership.

If a roadside emergency occurs during your trip, do your best to stay calm and try not to panic. If it is safe to do so, move your vehicle to a location off the road, away from traffic. Turn on your hazard lights so other drivers are able to see your vehicle more easily. Once you and your vehicle are safely outside the flow of traffic, call for roadside assistance. If you are unable to get off the road to a position of safety, remain inside your vehicle and call for emergency assistance. Be sure to express the urgency of the situation. While waiting for help, stay calm and do not attempt to begin repairing your vehicle unless you have the skills and toolset to do so.

Staying Safe on Your Next U.S. Roadtrip

We hope this article helps you stay safe the next time you take a trip across the country! Remember to thoroughly map out your route, pack an emergency kit, and have a plan in place for any roadside emergency you might reasonably encounter. Safe travels! 

Photo by Dominika Roseclay

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