Sometimes well need a getaway. If you don’t opt for the plane ride, you’re most likely banking on a road trip, which can be an electrifying experience, offering a much-needed break and the thrill of exploration. However, that excitement can turn sour quick due to the surprisingly common occurrence of road trip accidents. The key to a safe and enjoyable journey lies in adopting straightforward precautions to mitigate risks. Our little guide will walk you through essential strategies to make your road trip memorable for the right reasons – by keeping it safe.
Identifying and Mitigating Common Road Trip Hazards
The allure of a summer road trip comes with its share of risks. Awareness of the typical causes of road accidents and proactive prevention can drastically lower the chances of encountering a mishap.
A leading cause of road trip accidents is driver fatigue. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlight that in 2017, drowsy driving was responsible for approximately 91,000 crashes in the U.S. Extended driving periods can induce weariness and diminish your reaction time, making it challenging to adapt to sudden road or traffic changes.
Distractions Behind the Wheel
Distracted driving, where the driver's attention is diverted from the road, significantly increases the likelihood of accidents. Activities such as using a cellphone, eating, or adjusting the car's entertainment or navigation system can impair driving focus.
Excessive Speed and Aggressive Driving
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), speed-related crashes led to over 12,000 fatalities in 2021. High speeds compromise the driver's ability to navigate safely and lengthen the stopping distance required, raising the risk of accidents.
The impact of alcohol or drugs on driving cannot be overstated, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting 29 daily deaths in the U.S. due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Even moderate consumption can impair driving abilities, endangering everyone on the road.
Neglected Vehicle Maintenance
The Car Care Council has linked thousands of annual accidents to inadequate vehicle upkeep. Neglected maintenance, such as worn brake pads or underinflated tires, can lead to unforeseen breakdowns and accidents.
Road Trip Preparation Tips
With an understanding of common accident causes, you might wonder how to avert such incidents during your travels. Here are some preventative measures to consider before embarking on your journey:
Ensure Your Vehicle is Roadworthy
Conduct a comprehensive check of your vehicle's tires, lights, windshield wipers, and fluids. Address any necessary maintenance, such as oil changes or tire rotations, before departure. A well-maintained car is your first defense against road mishaps.
Plan Your Journey
Advance planning can mitigate stress and surprises on long trips. Utilize GPS or traditional maps to familiarize yourself with your route, considering factors like road conditions and traffic. Having an alternate route can also be beneficial.
Beyond personal belongings, include a road emergency kit in your packing list. Essentials like a first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, and spare tire can be lifesavers. Additionally, carry extra vehicle fluids and sufficient water and snacks for the duration of your trip.
To combat the risks of drowsy driving, ensure you're well-rested before departure. The Sleep Foundation equates driving after 20 hours without sleep to driving with a blood-alcohol level at the U.S. legal limit.
Practicing Safe Driving Habits
A well-prepared trip lays the foundation for safety, but adopting safe driving habits is equally crucial.
Always use seat belts and ensure children are in suitable safety seats. Minimize distractions by focusing on the road and adhering to speed limits and traffic regulations. Practice safe overtaking and maintain proper lane discipline. Familiarize yourself with and utilize your vehicle's safety features to enhance road safety.
Addressing Driver Fatigue
Staying alert is paramount, especially on lengthy trips. The National Sleep Foundation recommends taking breaks every two hours or 100 miles. If traveling with other licensed drivers, share driving duties to allow for rest. Recognize fatigue symptoms early, and don't hesitate to take a break or switch drivers if necessary.
Avoiding Impaired Driving
The consequences of impaired driving, both in terms of safety and legal repercussions, are severe. Make responsible choices to prevent impaired driving and ensure the safety of all road users.
Responding to Emergencies
Despite precautions, emergencies can still arise. In the event of an accident, prioritize safety, call the police, exchange information without admitting fault, and document the scene. Reporting the incident to your insurance and consulting a car accident attorney can also be critical steps.
Keep a list of emergency contacts handy, including local services and personal contacts. Sharing your travel itinerary with someone you trust can also provide an added layer of safety.
By adhering to these guidelines, you can enhance your road trip safety and focus on making enjoyable memories. Looking for help with your injury claims? While NextPhase Community doesn’t offer legal advice, our guidance can help you post-case or we can lead you to the right legal guidance you’d need!
In this journey, every step matters, and with NextPhase Community, no one has to walk it alone.