A road trip is a fun and affordable way to vacation. You skip the hassle of airport security lines and give phobia a pass. However, you’re responsible for ensuring your safety — what must you know to protect yourself on the road?

It all begins with the right preparation. Ensuring your vehicle is in good working order, planning your route and leaving a flight plan go far in providing peace of mind, and the right mindset and supplies build your confidence.

Learn how to thrive while you drive with these five tips for a safer road trip.

1. Inspect Your Ride

Some states require drivers to pass an annual vehicle inspection that ensures their ride is operable on the highways. While such laws protect you and other motorists, they aren’t required in every state — some only test for emissions, not overall safety.

Taking your car in for an oil change and a thorough once-over by a licensed professional is a smart move if you aren’t too automotive savvy. If you prefer to DIY, ensure you check the following items before departing on your trip:

  • Seat belts
  • Steering alignment
  • Spark plugs and wires
  • Oil and oil filters
  • Air and fuel filters
  • Fuel lines, hoses and belts

2. Plan Your Route 

One of the top road trip safety rules is to leave a flight plan with someone at home so they can direct authorities where to look if you don’t show up on time. If you’re driving solo, consider establishing regular check-in times where you touch base through FaceTime or even a simple text message to let folks know all is well.

Keep safety in mind when planning your route. For example, if traveling cross-country, consider sticking to the northernmost passage, as the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana have some of the safest highways anywhere in the country. Conversely, things get hairier down south, with Texas, California, Florida and Georgia among those states with the highest accident rates.

Furthermore, know your limits and establish breaks. Drowsy driving is every bit as dangerous as doing so while mildly intoxicated, so book hotel stays along your route or use an app like iOverlander or Trucker Path to find safe spots to pull over and sleep.

3. Brush Up Your Skills

Even if you pay a professional to inspect your vehicle before departure, you should know how to perform certain basic maintenance tasks on the fly. Doing so can save you considerable time. While roadside assistance is fabulous, waiting for the white knights to arrive can take hours in the middle of nowhere.

Learn how to change a tire. If you aren’t too comfortable with the jack provided by your vehicle’s manufacturer, invest in a floor jack to keep in your trunk. They’re easier to use and offer more security. A fully charged pneumatic wrench loosens those lugnuts without ripping your fingers to shreds, and triangles and flares improve safety and visibility when pulled over on the roadside.

You should also learn how to:

  • Safely add antifreeze or water to your radiator
  • Add oil and transmission fluid
  • Change your headlights
  • Replace your windshield wipers

Finally, include a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle.

4. Check Your Coverage 

Do you think you’re safe from unexpected bills because your insurance carrier includes roadside assistance coverage? Read your policy carefully before departure. Many plans only cover you a few miles from your home address — anything further incurs a hefty towing fee.

Consider investing in a roadside assistance club such as AAA for better protection. Take your time comparison-shopping, as each plan varies in the number of towing miles covered.

5. Stock The Essentials 

You should ensure you have the following essentials on your road trip: 

  • Spare clothes, including at least one outfit for each climate zone you plan to drive through. For example, those traveling to Florida should still bring plenty of sweaters.
  • A first-aid kit and a travel stash of any prescriptions you take
  • Plenty of water — at least 1 gallon per person per day and more if crossing desert regions
  • Snacks that won’t go bad in the car and offer nutrition, such as trail mix, nuts and seeds, jerky, individually wrapped cheese sticks and whole-grain crackers
  • Pillows and blankets in case you must wait roadside in the cold or plan to sleep in your car. Also, window screens help conceal you if catching a few winks at rest areas.
  • A tire repair kit including tire repair foam, a jack, a lug or pneumatic wrench, triangles and flares
  • A headlamp so you can keep your hands free while checking under the hood after dark
  • Spare oil and antifreeze so you’re prepared for any vehicular issues

Tips For A Safer Road Trip 

A road trip often makes for an affordable vacation. While it may not be safer than flying, it feels that way to folks with a phobia. However, you ultimately become responsible for ensuring your safety on the road. Use the above tips for a safe, enjoyable trip.

Author Bio

Oscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about health, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for regular updates on his work.


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