As the world is starting to come back to normal a year after the pandemic started, more people are starting to consider traveling as a way to destress and gain back a sense of normalcy after a difficult year. However, hitting the road after being in quarantine for so long may leave some drivers overwhelmed and confused on how to prepare.
While Americans are expected to drive less in 2020 due to the epidemic, initial NHTSA projections suggest that 38,680 individuals perished in motor vehicle traffic crashes—the highest projected number of fatalities since 2007. This represents a 7.2 percent increase over the 36,096 fatalities reported in 2019.
Traveling on the road has its own set of dangers that drivers and passengers need to be careful of. Every sixty seconds, a car accident occurs somewhere in the U.S. Here are some ways to stay safe when hitting the road
Perform a Regular Vehicle Maintenance Check Before Traveling
Regardless of how long you will be on the road, it’s best to perform a regular maintenance check on your vehicle to see if any parts need attention or repairs. Do oil changes, tune-ups, and battery and tire pressure checks. Here are some important things to note as well if you notice any of the following while performing a maintenance check:
- If you hear a noise when you brake or notice a slight difference in braking performance, it’s time to get your brakes checked.
- Check the tread depth of your tires regularly to ensure you have enough traction to grip the road. Make sure they’re properly inflated with a tire pressure gauge.
- If you’re having trouble getting around corners, your shock absorbers may be broken.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
It’s hard to predict when you need it, but it’s better to be prepared than sorry. You must have an emergency kit inside your vehicle in case something happens. Your emergency kit must include the following:
- Flat tire repair kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight (with batteries, of course)
Don’t Travel with a Damaged Windshield.
Being able to see the road clearly while driving is important. Having anything that can impair your vision while on the road is a recipe for disaster. Suppose you notice that your windshield and starting to affect your driving performance. It may be time to get it replaced or cleaned. If you damage your windshield while traveling, don’t hesitate to pull over to the nearest stop and try to find a nearby repair shop in the area.
Always Buckle Up
Seatbelts save lives. Always buckle up when you’re driving or riding a car. In 2017, approximately 14,955 people were saved in major traffic accidents thanks to seat belts. You can reduce your risk of being injured or killed by half by wearing a seat belt. This is our number one road trip safety tip, so make sure everyone is buckled up!
Avoid Driving While You’re Impaired
Driving while you’re impaired is one of the most dangerous and reckless things any driver can do. By doing this, you are not just endangering your own life but the lives of other innocent people on the road as well.
Alcohol-impaired driving crashes claimed the lives of 10,497 people in 2016, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. If you plan on getting intoxicated while on a trip, have someone who doesn’t drink drive for you on your behalf.
Check Your Driving Conditions
Weather conditions are also considered a factor in serious car accidents. If you are planning on taking a long road trip, make sure to check whether the weather is in your favor or not. Traveling on slippery roads can increase your chances of getting involved in a serious accident.
If it suddenly pours hard while you’re driving, you can try to take a detour on a nearby stopover and wait for the heavy rain to end.
Stay Alert and Focus on the Road
The best way to drive is to drive defensively. Stay alert and keep your eyes on the road. Make sure that you keep distractions are a minimum. Although it can be a little difficult to maintain focus for a long time, don’t hesitate to take breaks if you feel that you are getting tired from driving.
Keep an eye on the speedometer, keep an eye out for road signs, and stay focused. Stopping your vehicle to stretch your arms and legs is a good idea.
Follow the Speeding Limit
The speeding limit exists for a reason. If you exceed the speed limit, chances are, you might get involved in a serious car accident. In 2019, speeding was a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities, killing 9,478, or more than 25 people per day. Speeding was responsible for a total of 8,544 fatal motor vehicle collisions.
Avoid driving at high speeds at all costs. Slow down and keep driving at a safe speed. This way, you can avoid hitting any vehicles and pedestrians on the way.
Don’t Hesitate to Take Breaks.
You will get to your destination regardless of whether you take a break or not. You might as well give yourself a chance to rest to get enough energy to drive again. Overfatigued drivers also cause serious car accidents. More than 10% of road accidents are thought to be caused by driver fatigue. On a long journey, plan to stop for at least a 15-minute break every 2 hours.
Prepare Your Route
It’s critical to know where you’re going. You never know where you’ll end up if you get lost. You could end up in dangerous neighborhoods or stuck in a sand dune. You’ll be able to stay on track the entire journey if you map out your route ahead of time and have a GPS with you.
Another smart strategy is to print or screenshot your directions if your phone loses signal or runs out of battery. You won’t lose track of where you’re going at a crucial turn, exit, or merge this way.
If you find yourself involved in a car accident, seek the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer immediately. They will guide you through the legal process and handle all the heavy paperwork on your behalf while you recover from your injuries and process the accident.