UNITED STATES—Despite the speed and convenience of air travel, most Americans have a deep love for the open road. Indeed, recent survey results suggest 79 percent of American families went on a road trip in the past five years.
Even more surprising, over 70 percent of survey participants said they’d prefer going on a family road trip versus taking a plane. When asked why they prefer road trips so much, most respondents said driving was more enjoyable than dealing with the many screening procedures in modern airports.
Although traveling by car may seem safer than hopping aboard a plane, drivers need to be extra cautious on long-haul trips. Recent data reveals it’s far more likely you’ll get into a car accident versus a plane crash. A back injury from a car crash would lead to a bummer of a summer.
Four Ways to Make Your Road Trip Safer
Is Your Car Up For The Challenge? — Visit a Certified Mechanic
Long before you start your epic trek, you should double-check your car can handle the journey. Be sure to take your vehicle to a certified mechanic for a thorough inspection. This is also an excellent time to order routine services like a tire rotation and an oil change. If you have any doubts, be sure to ask your mechanic whether this car is fit for a long-haul voyage.
Alternatively, you may want to consider splurging on a rental car. While it may cost you more in the short term, using a rental will spare your vehicle some serious wear and tear. Plus, this is a great excuse to test drive a car model you’ve always dreamed of!
Never, Never, Never Neglect Seat Belts!
It should go without saying that seat belts are great for safety…but many Americans don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Indeed, in 2019, the NHTSA found almost 50 percent of motorists who died in crashes weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Multiple studies show you can reduce your risk of severe injury by at least 50 percent simply by buckling up.
No question: making sure everyone in your car has a seat belt on is the simplest way to keep your family safe.
Feeling Drowsy? Don’t Drive!
Did you know that drowsy driving is indistinguishable from drunk driving? According to recent studies from the CDC, people who drive non-stop for 18 hours have the same response time as those with a BAC of 0.05 percent. While you may feel like you’re “making great time,” it’s never worth the risk to drive for too long.
The moment you start to feel your eyelids droop, you need to get some rest. While temporary strategies like blasting the radio or downing an energy drink could help get you to a rest area, the only way to combat drowsy driving is to get plenty of sleep.
If you’re feeling tired, be sure to let others know how you’re feeling and find a safe place to pull over. You may also want to plan a “swapping strategy” so every driver shares equal hours behind the wheel.
Stuff Your Trunk with Safety Stuff (And Snacks!)
The best way to protect yourself on the roads is to be extra-prepared. So, if you don’t already have standard items like a spare tire, jumper cables, and first-aid kit, be sure to buy them before your road trip. A few other things to add to your car include a flashlight, reflective vest, and a few phone chargers.
If you’re not the best with directions, you may also want to invest in a hi-tech GPS device. You could also download a GPS on your phone or print your directions before your trip. Speaking of phone apps, road safety experts recommend downloading a few weather apps to monitor alerts in your area.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to bring plenty of water and energy-boosting snacks for your trip! A few top-rated road trip foods include nuts, protein bars, hard-boiled eggs, and beef jerky. You may also want to bring a few electrolyte packets to help stave off dehydration.