There’s almost no better time than summertime for a road trip. But before you hit the highways this season, make sure you’re set for a safe drive with these tips.
Know where you’re going.
This one may seem obvious, but If you’re venturing to a new destination, make sure you have a copy of your route saved in your device or printed on old-fashioned paper. It’s also a good idea to carry a road atlas in your vehicle. Highway interchanges aren’t always intuitive, and while using map apps in cell phones to navigate is usually reliable, you don’t want to end up stranded due to a technology or cell service snag.
Don’t drive fatigued.
Long stretches of highway can have a lulling effect — especially at night. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, and is reported to be responsible for about 100,000 crashes a year. Do everything you can to stay alert and avoid driving fatigued: try to get a good night’s sleep before a long trip; don’t drive at night if at all possible; switch drivers if you can; and pull over to a safe roadside spot, rest area, or truck stop if you need to rest.
Be aware of posted speed limits.
Speed limits can change dramatically state to state and even county to county (from 50mph to 85mph). Speeding can cost you in the form of ticket, crash, or worse. Watch for speed limit changes, and make sure you’re traveling the posted speed if driving in good conditions (adjust your speed if you encounter inclement weather, traffic or other unsafe conditions).
Share the road.
Be aware of others on the road, be courteous and obey traffic laws: Maintain a safe following distance; pass on the left; use your signal to indicate a lane change or turn; and make sure to stay to the right if you’re traveling slower than other traffic on the highway. Be aware of semi drivers, as well, as they may have poor visibility. Give them plenty of room when you pass and merge.
Watch for construction and closures.
Summer means road construction in many areas across the country. Be mentally prepared to encounter construction zones (and their accompanying travel delays) along your route, and always adhere to the posted speed limits, which will likely be considerably lower than typical in the work zone. The U.S. Department of Transportation features some good resources for learning about road conditions across the country before your trip.
Keep your car stocked.
No matter your driving distance, it’s always a good idea to keep basic safety items in your vehicle, including battery cables, spare tire and the necessary tools for changing a tire, a first aid kit, clothing layers or a blanket, and so on. In addition, make sure you have plenty of extra water and snacks.
Stow sanitizing supplies.
With the pandemic, you’ve likely been extra vigilant about handwashing and sanitizing surfaces at home and in your vehicle. Be sure to take these habits with you on the road, as well as sanitizing items like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, disposable gloves, and face masks. Realize that different states and counties have different regulations for wearing a face mask, so even if you’re not required to wear one in public at home, you may be required to wear one at your destination or stops along the way.