Family vacations! What a great time to see the world (or at least a few states) and make memories to last forever. However, if you aren’t prepared for safety while traveling, those memories might be ones you’d rather forget.
Breaking down any time is the pits; there is no upside to sitting helpless on the side of the road trying to change a tire, to diagnose the source of billowing smoke from the engine, waiting for what seems like days for a tow truck, paying for repairs, and maybe having to scrap either some or all of what had started out to be a much-anticipated trip. So, do yourself a favor and do your best to ensure that your vehicle is summer road-trip ready.
- Get your car road ready. Regular maintenance such as keeping up with oil changes and tire rotations should be routine on all vehicles. In addition, make sure to check tire pressure, belts and hoses, fluid levels, lights, and wiper blades. It’s much easier to replace or repair things at home rather than out on the road. If you are not mechanically inclined, some auto garages offer a free or low-cost safety check.
- Pack emergency supplies. You should always have a spare tire and jack on board in case of a blowout; but make sure the spare is full of air and where it should be. Bring along bottled water, blankets, a first aid kit, flashlights, emergency flares, etc. Keep in mind many newer car models do not include a spare tire, so make sure you know if your car does.
- Bring along maps of the areas you are visiting on your summer road trips. Although the technology is old, there are some spots where GPS won’t work or times it is simply is wrong. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Excitement might be running high the night before a trip, but try your best to get a good night’s sleep before setting out in the morning. Statistics show that driving drowsy is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, so be sure to switch up drivers and/or pull over for a short nap as needed. The Internet makes it easy to check the weather and traffic conditions for the day ahead and to get updates on your smartphone as the day progresses. If you know there may be a problem, you can try to chart a different course to avoid heavy traffic or unsafe weather.
Make sure to fill your gas tank before leaving and to refuel sooner than you might normally do when running around town. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you might run out of gas. Your smartphone or GPS can also help you map out gas stops before you leave. It is not a bad idea to carry a small gas can in case of emergencies. Be sure your phone is fully charged when you leave home and to pack chargers, including a car charger if you have one. If you don’t, you might consider picking one up before your summer road trips.
Take advantage of smartphone apps such as AAA Mobile, which allows you to create an itinerary and share it with friends so someone will know where you should be when in case something happens. You can also find repair facilities if needed and even find the cheapest gas. If you need roadside assistance and are a member of AAA, the app allows you to request help right from your smartphone.
Things can happen to even the best-prepared travelers, but you can feel much safer and better prepared when you do a little advance planning.