Whether you're traveling five miles or 500, you always need to practice safe driving behaviors. Otherwise, you could end up in a situation that requires assistance from a car accident attorney. But on long-distance car trips, the need for safety can be even greater. When traveling in unfamiliar areas under stressful conditions, the likelihood of an accident may increase. To ensure your safety when taking a road trip, you'll want to take the following tips under advisement.
Be completely prepared for emergencies
Although you hope to never find yourself in an emergency scenario when traveling, it's good to be prepared for anything. Assuming you know how to avoid distracted driving behaviors, you'll keep your cell phone out of sight for the duration of your trip. But you should still ensure it's fully charged in case of emergencies. You should also bring along extra food, water, a first aid kit, and other emergency items (e.g., jumper cables, a blanket, a rain poncho, etc.). You'll also want to consider investing in roadside assistance prior to setting out, in case you get a flat tire, your battery dies, or you're locked out of your vehicle.
Ensure your vehicle is in excellent condition
Before you head out on the open road, you'll want to have your car professionally inspected. This can catch any little issues that could derail your travel plans. Give yourself at least a few weeks' time in case your mechanic catches anything that requires them to order and install a new part. Once you get the seal of approval, you'll want to make a habit of checking your lights, blinkers, wiper blades, mirrors, and brakes before you drive off. You'll also want to keep your windshield and other windows clean. You may even want to bring a clean rag and some window cleaner with you on your trip.
Obey all road signs and speed limits
In unfamiliar areas, it's easy to get caught unawares. You may not even realize how fast you're traveling or the hazards that may be around you. Always adjust your speed according to posted signs, particularly in dark or busy spots. Stay on the lookout for wildlife, particularly if signs have been posted or you're traveling along a wooded area. It's also a good idea to research your intended route beforehand and keep up-to-date with all road closures. That way, you can avoid any tricky or treacherous roadways and feel confident in your driving abilities.
Recognize when you're drowsy and take action
Believe it or not, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Unfortunately, drowsy driving is very common on long trips. You'll need to learn to recognize the signs of drowsy driving (like the inability to focus, frequent blinking, or wandering thoughts) and take action when you spot them in yourself or others. Make it a habit to drive with a buddy and switch shifts if you find yourself getting too sleep to drive. And as a rule, try to avoid driving at night whenever possible. Make arrangements to stay over somewhere instead.
Know how to avoid distracted driving behaviors
On long trips in particular, it's vital to know how to avoid distracted driving. At any given daylight moment, around 660,000 drivers in the U.S. use cell phones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel. To avoid the urge to start texting while driving or to take a short phone call, keep your phone away for the entire trip. However, it should be easily accessible in case of a true emergency. If you're using a GPS device to navigate, make sure it's mounted close to your eye level. And make sure music and conversation do not distract from the task at-hand
If you know how to avoid distracted driving and drowsy driving, prepare your vehicle for emergencies, do your research, and follow all posted signage, you'll be in a better position to avoid a car crash during your long-distance trip. If you do need legal assistance after an accident or a traffic violation, contact our law firm today.