Guest Post By Angela Petteys
It’s been a rough winter and at long last, spring is finally here! The days are getting longer, temperatures are starting to warm up, and people are eager to start getting out of the house again. With school vacations just around the corner, lots of people like to take the opportunity to get the kids ready, pack up the car, and head out on a road trip.
Whether you’re planning to stay in the state for a quick weekend getaway or take a longer trip to another state, road trips are bound to create some great memories with your family. The last thing you want is for your trip to end up being more memorable for something bad that happened along the way. If you’re going to be one of the thousands of people taking a road trip this spring or summer, here are some tips to help make sure you and your family reach your destination safely.
No matter where you’ll be heading to on your vacation, it’s always a good idea to make sure your car is up for the trip. Nobody ever wants to end up being stranded on the side of the road in an area they’re not familiar with.
As you check your car over, the tires are a great place to start. As temperatures change, so can the pressure in your tires. Many people put extra air in their tires during the winter because the cold weather causes their tire pressure to drop. But once temperatures start to warm up again, that extra air can potentially make your tires overinflated.
The coin test can also help you figure out whether or not your tires are worn and need to be replaced. All you have to do is put an upside down penny into the treads of one of your tires. If the tread of your tire covers any part of Lincoln’s head, your tires are road-trip ready. If not, it’d be a good time to replace your tires.
Don’t forget to make sure your headlights and turn signals are in good working order. If you’re due for an oil change, go ahead and get that done before the trip. Windshield wipers can get a lot of use during the winter, so it would be a good idea to top off your windshield wiper fluid and possibly replace your windshield wiper blades.
Get Lots of Rest
Drowsy driving is nothing to take lightly. According to the National Safety Council, being fatigued behind the wheel makes you three times more likely to be in a car crash. The drowsier a driver is, the slower their reaction times are and the harder it is for them to pay attention to the road. If you’re planning to get an early start on your trip, be sure to get to bed early the night before. Don’t underestimate how tired you could get on your drive — especially if you’ll be driving after doing something like spending a day at an amusement park. Depending on how long your trip is, you might want to find hotels to stay at along the way.
When people hear the words “distracted driving,” they often imagine someone texting or Snapchatting behind the wheel, but in reality, distracted driving can take many different forms. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your eyes/attention off the road is considered distracted driving, including eating, messing with GPS systems, and adjusting radios.
Driving requires your full attention, so before you pull out of the driveway, do your best to make sure you eliminate as many distractions as possible. Program your GPS system with your route before leaving and make sure things like your sunglasses and water bottle are within arm’s reach. Make sure the kids are comfortable and have plenty of things to keep them entertained.
If you think you’ll need to answer calls or send texts during the trip, try to have someone with you who can do that for you while you drive. Even using hands-free functionality on your devices can be distracting when you’re trying to drive.
Planning a road trip shouldn’t be limited to figuring out where to go and what you want to do when you get there. Weather in the spring and summer can be very unpredictable at times, so be sure to check the forecast for any areas you’ll be traveling through. It it looks like you might be heading into any storms, you have an opportunity to find a place to stop and wait for the storm to pass or possibly find another route.
Another good thing to try to find out is if you’ll be encountering any road construction on the way. As Michigan residents know all too well, there are always lots of construction projects happening during the spring and summer and checking ahead can help you avoid congested areas.
Just because we’re starting to move away from snowy and icy weather, it’s important to remember that doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer hazards on the road.
As Goodwin & Sceiszka points out, summer is actually the most dangerous season for driving.
Roads may be less slippery in the summer, but warmer weather brings out other dangers to be aware of. Once school is out, teen drivers with less experience behind the wheel have more time to be out driving. Holidays and other common summertime events like graduation parties and barbeques can raise the risk of drunk drivers being on the road. The nicer weather tends to bring more people out in general, including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. As you drive along to your destination, be sure to stay vigilant about watching the behavior of other drivers on the road and be careful in watching for pedestrians and cyclists. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the better you’ll be able to protect yourself, your family, and others.
Ready to drive on? Have a safe road trip!
Author Bio: Angela is a Michigan-based writer who enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, ranging from travel and movies to food and interior design. Aside from writing, she enjoys gardening, antiquing, reading, and walking.
*Photos courtesy of Angela Petteys