Not too long ago, we went to America and, well, it turns out there are a thousand and three things the people here think there incredible country is famous for. Baseball. Mount Rushmore. The Bill of Rights. Rock and roll. Apple. Ford Mustangs. Mark Twain. Iced Drinks. Pizza delivery. The Super Bowl. Obama. So much. So, so much. What’s funny, though, is that they are all wrong.
It’s a mythology that is deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon and one that has been immortalised in books and films and songs, each of them glamorising what would otherwise be a long and arduous drive were it any other country.
You have Kerouac’s On The Road, Highway 62 by Dylan, Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider and so many more cultural behemoths that all celebrate the freedom found on a road trip across one of the greatest geographical spaces anywhere on the planet. It’s the wonders of the open road.
But for all that is celebrated about this rite of passage, there is one thing that cannot be overlooked: safety. We know it’s boring and mundane and all that sort of stuff. We know that. But nothing has the ability to ruin a road trip more than a disaster. Mmmm hmmm. All great road trips are the ones that go safe and sound.
So, before you head on over to the states, buck up and get ready to go from coast to coast or wherever it is you fancy, take a few minutes to read our top road trip safety tips. Trust us, should anything go wrong, you’ll be glad you did.
The Most Common Safety Mistake
Chances are, you’re thinking to yourself, “not planning your route thoroughly.” But that’s not it, and, even if it was, we would say it because a huge part of road tripping is not knowing where you’ll pass through or what you’ll see. That’s what makes a road trip so exciting. Anyway, to clarify it for you, the most common safety mistake is not checking you have the proper emergency items in your car before you leave. In fact, half of all road-trippers fail to do this quick check, which is crazy because it is so easy to do and could save you such a massive migraine down the line.
Stocking Up On Emergency Essentials
Okay, like we said, having a well-stocked emergency kit in your car is an absolute safety essential. The problem is, well, knowing what to put in your emergency kit so, to help you out a little, we’ve pulled together a list of all that you need. We’re talking a couple of small torches, plenty of bottled water, plasters and band-aids, a mobile phone charger and car adapter, and anything else you might commonly use at home should a mini-disaster happen. Another little item that never gets enough kudos is a towel. Yup. That’s right. A Towel. However, should you break down or hear a clunking noise or have any worries whatsoever, having a towel to lie on when you check the underneath of your car is a luxury like no other. As for more car-related emergency items, things like jump leads, a spare tire and a multi-purpose tool are all going to put your mind at ease when your head plops on a motel pillow at the end of a long day driving. Oh, and one last thing, don’t just chuck these things in your car and be done with it. Instead, keep all your emergency items together in one place, like a backpack or a milk crate, and make sure it’s easily accessible at the start of each day.
Know The Dangers Of Driving
The logic is pretty simple: if you know what the big dangers and risks are then you will be able to better limit them. That means never driving after a drink, knowing the dangers of fatigue and not getting distracted. To cast a bit more light on these:
Don’t drink ever: Forget what the law says, put a zero-tolerance policy on anyone insured to drive your car. That includes driving the day after a night of drinking. Studies show this is still the number one danger on the road, so please don’t.
Fatigue is dangerous: this is another massive cause of motor accidents. So, if you ever start feeling a bit sleepy behind the wheel, either pull over and rest, stop for the night or let someone else take over. That said, it’s not just your own fatigue you need to be worried about. There are two ways you can protect yourself from other drivers. First off, know who else is on the road with you. For example, truckers tend to drive for long hours, which makes them susceptible to tiredness, and an accident with a truck is not something you want to experience, as craigswapp.com proves. The other thing you can do to protect yourself is to avoid driving late at night, when other road-users may be feeling a tad sleepy. Instead, drive during the day and get into the habit of stopping at 6 pm or earlier each evening.
Distractions cause disasters: Fiddling about with the sat-nav, trying to keep the kids entertained, switching music channels, setting up the tablet for them to watch something, all of these are bad news moments because you, the driver, are distracted. Our advice: get everything set up perfectly before you set off each morning and, if you do need to fiddle around with anything for any reason, pull over and do it. It’s better to be 10 minutes late in this world than 10 minutes early for the next.
Get Clued Up, Yeah
Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed them for life. Remember that cliched old-adage. Well, it works, which is why we recommend you learn a few of the DIY car maintenance essentials in the lead up to your big departure. How to check the tire pressure, how to change a tire, how to sort an oil leak, fill your windscreen fluid, change your wiper blades and, who knows, how to syphon fuel. Basically, anything that will help you get started back up should you come to a stop on the side of the road. That includes adding the number of a highway rescue service to your speed dial.
Beth is a 30-something, self-employed Mum rediscovering her connection to British History and nature. Her loves include the discovery of knowledge, walking in the woods, and writing, among others. Beth is a Virtual Assistant at The Happy VA.