If you’re planning a road trip in the near future, you’ll want to take a look at our comprehensive road trip safety checklist at least a week before you hit the road to ensure the road trip is a safe and fun experience.
Get a Tune-Up
If you haven’t gotten a tune-up recently, this is one of the best things you can do to ensure a safe road trip before hitting the road. Getting a tune-up by a professional will ensure that your car is in the best working order, and in the event that anything is wrong, they can address the issue before a flat-tire or breakdown.
A mechanic will check that your brakes are in good working order, and they will check all of your belts, caps, hoses, and filters for issues. It’s also a good idea to get an oil change prior to leaving for your road trip.
Prepare Your Car
In the event you’re unable to get a tune-up before you leave, you can do a once over on your car and check the following:
- Ensure you have enough fluids in your car – this includes coolant, oil, and windshield washer fluid.
- Check your tire pressure of both the tires on your car and your spare tire.
- Double-check that all lights, signals and wiper blades are working.
Giving your car a once-over to ensure it is road trip worthy will save you major headaches and expenses later. Both towing and emergency car repairs can become costly when you’re away from home. Don’t skimp on anything and make sure to top off all fluids, ensure your tires are full, and that you have a roadside emergency kit in your car.
Prepare a Roadside Emergency Kit
Having a roadside emergency kit for your car will save you from a ton of headaches in the event of a breakdown or flat tire. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with your route and know where gas stations and mechanic shops are along the way.
Here’s what you should include in your emergency roadside kit:
- Jumper cables
- Jack stand
- Tools to change a tire including a lug lock key if necessary
- Chains for traction (during the winter months)
- Waterproof matches
- First aid kit
- Reflective vest and triangle
It’s also a good idea to get a roadside assistance plan in the event of an emergency.
Understand How to Change a Tire
Every year motorists experience millions of flat tires. Even if have a roadside assistance membership it’s a good idea to learn how to change a flat tire to save yourself time and money.
Look up YouTube tutorials for your make and model of car, or do some research ahead of time, this way you’ll be prepared in the event you get a flat tire.
Be Smart With Gas Mileage
While this isn’t a physical issue to concern yourself with, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your gas mileage when you’re driving for long trips to get the most out of your tank.
Here are some tips to save on gas:
- Slow down your acceleration.
- Maintain a moderate speed.
- Keep windows closed while traveling at high speeds.
- Avoid driving on rough roads.
- Cooldown automatic transmissions by placing your vehicle in neutral at traffic standstills.
- Remove excess weight from your car.
- Make sure tires are pressurized to the maximum limit.
Keep the Weight Down in Your Vehicle
Not only does keeping the weight down help with gas mileage, but it reduces potential safety risks. Store any heavy items low in the seat wells so they don’t become projectiles should you have to stop short. Suitcases, strollers, and anything else you can fit should be battened down and stored in your trunk or secured to the roof rack.
Remain Safe and Alert While Driving
The final safety step for any road trip is being both safe and alert while you’re on the road. Here are some safety precautions to consider:
- Continually scan the road for potential hazards
- Be aware of tailgaters and/or aggressive drivers
- Avoid pulling over on the side of the road unless it is an emergency
- Make sure you have plenty of gas between exits and planned stops
- Take breaks and stretch to avoid falling asleep at the wheel
- Share driving responsibilities to avoid fatigue or highway hypnosis