If you're planning a big road trip in the near future, you might want to make a checklist for yourself before you hit the highways. While long distance driving can be both an entertaining and grueling experience, there are some serious safety tips you should follow so you make it there and back in one piece.
Pack your bags because here are 10 ways you can make your long distance drive safer:
1. Make an emergency kit
If you're driving long distances, you need to ensure you will be safe in the instance your car breaks down, you get into an accident or if you run out of gas. The best way to prevent this is to pack an emergency kit that will help you in all of these situations. Make sure you have gloves, tire changing tools, a flashlight, jumper cables and some extra blankets.
2. Plan your route
As the majority of you likely have smartphones to lead the way, there are still plenty of spots in the nation where your phone could lose service. Additionally, planning the route ahead will give you an idea of regions where you can stop to refuel, rest or see roadside attractions. The more you plan, the more you'll be able to enjoy and safely know where you're going.
3. Check your vehicle before leaving
If you're planning any serious trip, you want to make sure you get your car inspected before you go. Typically, cars need the oil changed every 3,000 miles. Additionally, you need to inspect your tires as well as your spare. Make sure your car is also topped off with all your important fluids and coolants. Another thing you should check is your luggage. If you are tying luggage or bags to the top of your car, or you're bringing along bicycles, a canoe or ski equipment, ensure it's completely locked down and not going anywhere while you drive.
4. Pack water and snacks
You want to make sure you're fully hydrated on your road trip because driving under the hot sun will make your body dehydrated without drinking water. Try to avoid a lot of sugary drinks that will increase your dehydration and pack plenty of snacks. When you're driving long distances, you only want to make necessary stops or your two-day trip can turn into three. It's also smart to have extra snacks and water in case your car breaks down.
5. Play podcasts or audiobooks everyone will enjoy
If you have a car full of your friends, it can get very distracting trying to switch through music. Try downloading audiobooks or podcasts that everyone will like, so there's less fighting over the radio while on the road. If that's not your thing, designate hours to each person to have control of the radio or music so there's less debate.
6. Take breaks every couple of hours
While it's important to stay on schedule, you need to make sure you are taking plenty of breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. If you feel tired, switch drivers or plan a quick hour nap off the road somewhere. Never drive while you're exhausted and try to stay away from filling up on caffeine when you're already exhausted as it will make you hit the wall harder.
7. Don't use cruise control at night
If you're driving late hours of the night, you're likely somewhat exhausted. Using cruise control can be a recipe for disaster as you approach objects much faster in the dark. Concentrating on your speed will help you stay awake and focused on the road.
8. Use GPS
If you can, it's smart to use a GPS to make sure you're never lost. Even though you should plan ahead, it's still critical to have a GPS in case of road work or detours put you off the beaten path.
9. Download travel guide apps
There are plenty of apps out there that can make your trip more enjoyable and help you find all the cool roadside attractions. Make sure you plan this beforehand or get a passenger to do the searching.
10. Check with your insurance
You should make sure your auto insurance will cover you if you need to call roadside assistance or help tow your car in an emergency situation. Before you take your trip, it could be a good time to see if your car insurance company is fully protecting you because a competitor could have a better deal. You might be able to find safe driver discounts or other ways to save money before you go on your long trip.
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