You have decided to pack up the family and head across the state. Maybe you are feeling particularly brave and will be heading across the country. Whether you are driving 300 miles or 3,000, there are ways you can help to ensure your family road trip is a safe one.
1. Get a Tune Up
If you haven’t had your car in for a checkup in quite some time, now is when you want to do it. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you should have your tires, belts, battery, air conditioner and fluids checked out by a certified mechanic. Let the mechanic know where you will be traveling. You may need a different type of oil in your vehicle.
2. Get Adequate Rest
Drowsy and distracted driving is a very real problem in the United States. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep before you leave. It may be hard to do, especially if you have excited children in the house, but being rested will benefit you when you are driving for hours.
3. Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit
You will want to make sure you have an emergency kit in your car. Grab a few household essentials and build from there. A small flashlight, some water bottles, bandages and a cell phone charger are all easy to pack. An old towel, some changes of clothes, flares and jumper cables are good to add.
If anyone in your family routinely takes medication, either prescription or over-the-counter, make sure you have enough to last the length of your trip, plus a few extra. Some doctors will write you a prescription for your trip, depending on the medication. If the medication can be purchased over-the-counter, buy a new package to take with you. This will help to ensure you don’t run out or use what you have and then not have any left at home when you get back.
5. Entertaining Small Passengers
You don’t want to listen to a chorus of “Are we there yet?” coming from the backseat. Pack an entertainment bag for each child. Better yet, let them pack their own bag. Coloring and puzzle books work well. If your child is a bit older, a tablet preloaded with their favorite movies will be a great idea, provided you also pack headphones or earbuds.
6. Learn How to Fix It
You don’t have to be a mechanic to take a road trip safely, but learning a few DIY fix-its will be in your best interest. At a minimum, you should know how to check a tire. Understand where your different fluids go, and know how full the reservoirs need to be. You should also learn how to change your wiper blades.
7. Plan Your Route
Take time the day before you leave to plan your route. Plug it into your GPS and choose alternates if that’s what you want to do. Remember that your GPS will reroute itself if it needs to. All you need to do is punch in the initial route and let your GPS take it from there. On a GPS note: resist the urge to argue with it. Stay on the beaten path. If you get a bit twisted on your route, your GPS will get it all figured out.
8. Take Breaks
When you are planning your road trip, plan breaks into your route. You should stop every couple of hours for a bit of a stretch. Two hours would be a good time to switch drivers as well. The longer you drive, the more your concentration will wane and the sleepier you will become. If you are driving with another adult, take shifts driving and keep each other awake and focused.
9. Know Local Laws
Can you use your cell phone while driving in your city? That might not be the case in every location you travel through. When you plan your route, you can study the local traffic laws. Know when it is illegal to use your cell hone or hands-free device behind the wheel. This can be important if you run into trouble or need to check in with someone at home.
10. Lock It Away
Because you will be making frequent stops, make sure that your valuables are locked out of sight. Don’t leave your belongings piled in the backseat where they are visible to anyone who walks by your car. Put what you have in the trunk so no one knows what you have.
If you happen to be involved in a car accident in West Palm Beach, reach out to our experienced team of car accident attorneys. We will help you schedule a free case evaluation in order to discuss the details of your accident. Our attorneys can help you determine what type of compensation you may be entitled to. Call today and speak with a member of our team.