Road trips are great! It doesn’t matter if you’re going with friends, family or alone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re crossing state lines, doing cross country or simply taking a long drive down to the nearest national park/nature reserve.
They just are a fantastic way to take in the sights and sounds of a place, spend quality time and share experiences with those you love and get some time out from the grind or monotony of everyday life!
On a flip side, an article in USA Today discussed how flying is actually safer than driving! Though statistically this might make sense, we feel you can ensure that your road trips are perfectly safe and enjoyable for everyone with you by following a few simple guidelines.
Get the car tuned and checked
The first thing you want to do is make sure the vehicle that is going to carry you and possibly others across as many miles as you have decided, is in working order. Things you should make sure you have checked include:
- Engine oil
- Brakes and brake fluid
- Tire pressure and overall tire condition (very old tires are more prone to punctures and tend to lose grip)
- Lights and indicators
- Cooling system, radiator and coolant
- Wipers and wiper fluid
- Hoses (e.g. radiator hose) and belts (e.g. engine belts)
- Transmission and axel
- Overall lubrication
Your car is what will get you around and the components mentioned above are all essential to smooth running. Why? So that the car doesn’t break down three hours out of Phoenix! Feel free to test drive your car a bit before you set off.
Figure it out
It doesn’t make sense to travel blind. Even if you are looking for a little adventure, it is always wise to have some idea of where it is you want to go and what you might want to see and do.
Getting a sense of what the agenda is also helps you stock up adequately and accordingly. Take some time out to plan your trip, map your route and figure out what the journey will entail.
All round essentials
Regardless of whether you’re planning on a long road trip or a short one, there are certain things you just need to have on you in case something happens and things don’t go quite as planned. Some of the basics are:
- Pen knife
- Emergency water supply
- Extra water and radiator coolant
- Spare tire
- Tool kit for vehicle
- Jumper cables
The items listed above will come in handy both to keep yourself and your ride going in case of any emergency. Of course, there is a whole other list of camping supplies and gear that you could pack but we’re focusing more on the road and safety so we’re not going to list those!
All set and on your way
Once you have the above pre-prep in place, you and your car are good to go.
Get a good night’s rest before you hit the road. Make sure you are well fed and get at least eight hours of sleep. Grogginess tends to impair alertness reaction time and hence your overall driving ability. Adequate rest ensures you’ll be sharp and vigilant while driving, keeping yourself and those with you safe.
Air and Gas
Make sure your tire pressure is what it’s meant to be. If you feel your tire seems to have deflated a little over night, have it rechecked for punctures before hitting the highway. Fill up your gas tank!
Check your locks and Buckle up
If you’re traveling with children, turn on your child safety locks. Make sure you and everyone else is buckled in and hit the road.
Check your Posture
Long drives and bumpy roads can be a strain on your back. Make sure the position you’re driving in is comfortable and works well for you.
Be watchful for cyclists and pedestrians especially when exiting the highway and moving in to a town area. Our speed estimate, after driving for a while in a high-speed zone can get a little wonky so check your speedometers!
Keep your eyes on the road at all times. Even when in conversation, stay alert, use your mirrors and leave the iTunes to one of your passengers.
If you’re driving alone, pull over at stops for water or even just to stretch your legs. If with company who are licensed drivers, feel free to share responsibility and take shifts. Again, this helps keep you sharp and alert.
Understand Local Traffic Regulations
Be mindful of local traffic regulations especially speed limits. If you know where you’re going a quick look at the local traffic rules could save you potential trouble with the law!
Keep any heavy bags or material on the foot mats of your car so they don’t hit anyone in case you suddenly need to break!
Everyone is Not You
Remember you will come across all sorts on the road. Even if you are great behind the wheel, stay cautious of aggressive, reckless or intoxicated drives.
The best way is to pull back, slow down and just let them pass! Defensive driving is a form of driving geared towards keeping safe regardless of the actions of others on the road!
If you want to learn what makes a good defensive driver, take up a course at a defensive driving school and ensure more control and hence safety on the road.
Like we said, road trips are great! It also helps to know a thing or two about car repair when hitting the long road but above all, it is imperative that you have a driving license!
If you feel you’re missing out, take driving classes so you can finally hit that highway!
Jacob’s Driving School is dedicated to providing learners in Phoenix, Arizona with top-notch instructors who ensure that those graduating are better, smarter and more confident drivers.