A road trip is a fun way to spend time with family or friends while exploring new places. Road trips are also an excellent opportunity for some peaceful, relaxing driving. However, they can be dangerous if you're not prepared and don't take the necessary steps to ensure your safety. To make sure that everyone on board has a safe trip, it's important to do some advance planning. Keep reading for tips to help you out.
Do not drink and drive
Driving is a serious responsibility. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can drive after they've consumed alcohol. The truth is, when you learn more about car accidents, you learn that even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction times enough to cause you to not be able to function as an alert driver. When you are on a road trip, have someone else drive if you've been drinking.
Pack a first-aid kit
You never know what might happen on the road, but that doesn't mean that your family should be unprepared for accidents. There are many specialty first aid kits available for purchase online. Here is what it should include:
- Bandages, including Band-aids and butterfly bandages
- Gauze, rolls of cloth for covering wounds
- Antiseptic wipes or ointment to prevent infections
- A thermometer to check body temperature in case someone is suffering from hypothermia (i.e., too cold) or hyperthermia (i.e., too hot)
- Petroleum jelly, which can be used to treat chapped skin
- Assorted sizes of safety pins
- Over-the-counter pain medication, including Excedrin or Tylenol
- Antacids for upset stomachs
- A first aid guidebook with pictures or diagrams of common injuries
Car-proof your vehicle
It's not enough to check over only parts of the vehicle before heading out on the road. It's important to check over the entire vehicle before leaving. To be sure that your car is ready for a road trip, you can take it to an inspection center. Here is how to car proof your vehicle:
- Check the air pressure in your tires to make sure they are properly inflated.
- Check all of your lights, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals. Make sure the brake lights work properly. If there's a problem with them or any other tail light, it could mean that you'll need to replace the bulb soon, especially if it's getting dark.
- Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and all of the blades are attached properly to the wiper arms. You might need to replace them if they are old or cracked, or don't seem to be cleaning very well. Also, check for cracks in the windshield itself, if there is one.
- Test your horn to make sure it's working properly. If you have a backup horn, make sure that it works as well.
- Brake and gas pedals should be checked for any binding and ensure that the clutch and brake linings are not worn out and need replacement soon.
- Check the level of coolant in your radiator to see if you need to refill it with water. Also, make sure there are no leaks coming from the radiator, hoses, or belts around the engine block.
- Check all of the belts around the car to make sure they are tight and won't come loose if you're in a collision.
Learn road signs
Road signs can be confusing, and it's easy to misinterpret them – especially if you're not familiar with them. To avoid any confusion, take the time to learn what common road signs mean so that you'll know what your speed limit is and where there might be construction work taking place on the highway. Here are the most common road signs:
- Stop Sign - This sign means "stop."
- Yield Sign - This sign means "yield" or "give way."
- Speed Limit Signs - These signs are usually posted on the highway and let you know how fast you can drive in that area. The numbers indicate the maximum speed you should go, while the lowercase letters indicate the recommended speed limit.
- Highway Exit Signs - These are the same type of signs you'll see if you are driving in a city, letting you know what road exit is coming up so that you can prepare to get off.
- Dead End Sign - This sign means "no through traffic" or "end of road."
- One Way Sign - This sign means that you can only drive in one direction, i.e., "eastbound" or "westbound," but not both, on that street. You will also see these signs posted near roundabouts and other intersections where traffic must travel in only one direction at a time, to avoid a collision.
- Road Work Ahead - These signs are posted along the highway to let you know that there is some sort of construction work being done on the roadway, which means you should approach it carefully and obey all traffic controls.
- No Left Turn Sign - You'll see this sign if there is no left turn allowed on that street.
- No Right Turn Sign - This sign means there is no right turn allowed on that street.
- No Trucks Sign - If you see this sign, only smaller vehicles are permitted to drive on that road or highway because it is congested with trucks or other large commercial vehicles.
- Road Narrows Sign - This sign is posted on the side of the road or highway, informing you that there is some sort of obstruction ahead.
- Fork in Road Sign - This means whether to turn left or right at the fork in the road. When you see this sign while driving along a two-lane highway, make sure to stay in the right lane, unless you're turning left.
- Passing Zone Sign - This sign is meant to warn you that there are no passing zones ahead. You can tell when this sign is posted on the highway because it will have the words "twenty miles per hour" written beneath it.
Wear a seatbelt
Every vehicle sold today is required to have seat belts, and it is extremely important that you wear them every time you drive or ride in a car. They help save lives by reducing your chances of injury from an accident if you're not thrown from the vehicle or ejected from your seat. Make sure that everyone in the car is wearing one, including the driver and passengers, but also pets who are riding in their carrier or pet basket behind a passenger's seat.
Road trips are a fun and economical way to get away from it all, but if you're going to be on the road for any length of time, always make sure that your car is in good working order before you leave. Also, keep a first aid supply, learn road signs, wear a seatbelt and never drink and drive.