Before Your Next Family Road Trip Check Out These 7 Safety Tips
With summer in full swing it seems like everyone is gearing up for that much needed time away from the everyday life that wears them down to a shred. The kids are eagerly anticipating this year’s road trip and are curious about the places you will go and the things you will see. However, nothing is worse than your dream vacation turning into a nightmare if something unexpected should befall you. From breakdowns to little accidents along the way, always expect the unexpected. These seven safety tips should help prevent those little mishaps from spoiling this year’s summer adventure.
1. Check All Fluids in the Vehicle
While you could always bring your vehicle into the service station to get all the fluids checked and changed, it may not be time for your regularly scheduled service. If it is not yet the time to get your oil changed, you might want to do a thorough fluid check yourself. One thing which many drivers fail to check is the ratio of coolant to water in the radiator. Make sure to keep adequate levels of coolant in your radiator and only use high grade coolant to protect your engine from running hot in summer.
2. Schedule a Road Safety Check with Your Mechanic
You may be able to get away with doing a fluid check yourself but, unfortunately, there are some things you just can’t inspect without the proper tools or a hydraulic lift. If possible, schedule that safety inspection just a day or two prior to your road trip so that you know everything is in working order. The breaks, tires and all lights need to be examined along with the windshield wipers, emergency breaks and any other parts that could result in a catastrophe should they fail.
3. Check and Re-check Your Routes
When leaving on a road trip, it is advisable to check and recheck your route before you leave. Even with a GPS in your vehicle or on your cell phone, make sure to have a map handy in case you need to visualize exactly where you are in relation to where you are headed. There are times when the GPS system, for one reason or another, may be down and that map can be an invaluable aid. This is often the case out on open roads between towers.
4. Leave a Traveling Itinerary with a Close Friend or Relative
Do you know how many times leaving a traveling itinerary with a close friend or relative has saved lives? This is more common in winter months when snow storms and blizzards approach unexpectedly, but breaking down in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service could quickly result in a major disaster. If you plan to check in with that person at pre-appointed times and they don’t hear from you, it is possible to call highway patrol, apprise them of your expected location and they can begin looking for your vehicle. This is a Murphy’s Law situation. If anything can go wrong it probably will so be prepared and you’ll be safe.
5. Check Car Seats and Safety Restraints
If you have little children who need to be in safety seats, make absolutely sure they are in working order and of the type that is approved for use with your children. Front facing seats, rear facing seats and even toddler seats need to meet with your state’s minimum requirements. All seat belts should be working and checked to ensure they hold in a collision. This includes an inspection of your air bags as well.
6. Pack an Emergency Kit
Also, make sure to pack an emergency kit. This should include flashlights, safety flashers, a blanket, a first aid kit and plenty of bottled water ‘in case.’ When packing your emergency kit, you may also want to pack a few entertaining activities and games for the kids. Not looking to have an accident on the road? Then keep the kids entertained and out of your hair! (One distraction is one distraction too many out on a high speed highway!)
7. Get Adequate Rest before Hitting the Road
Finally, although you are excited about finally going on vacation with the family, make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before you leave. Wake up and have a good breakfast, a nice cup of coffee and get ready to hit the road as early as possible. Break often and if you feel yourself drowsy, pull over as soon as safely possible. It is far better to stretch a bit at the nearest rest area than it is to fall asleep behind the wheel.
You are on vacation so take your time! Enjoy the family and your road trip. There is no hurry unless you are going to a family gathering or major event while on the road. If you find yourself falling behind schedule, too bad! It means you didn’t plan well and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Have fun this summer and don’t forget to pack the camera. This will be one vacation you’ll want to remember for many years to come.