With kids out of school, summer is a popular time for families to embark on road trips across the country. Road trips are a good way to see many different cities and sights in one vacation, however, this type of trip does not come without serious risks of accidents and injuries. In order to avoid accidents on road trips and maximize your family’s enjoyment, you should take the following precautions and more before and during your time on the road.
Plan your route carefully
Road trips can cover many miles and chances are good that you will be driving on relatively unfamiliar roads during your vacation. You should carefully map out your route and know where you are going ahead of time to avoid directional issues or confusion. If you plan to travel through mountains, familiarize yourself with safe driving techniques in that kind of terrain. Additionally, look ahead to see if there are any construction zones or other potential hazards on your route. Check the weather for each leg of your trip and make sure to have working windshield wipers, air conditioning, heat, defroster, or any other equipment that may be necessary in adverse weather conditions.
Perform maintenance on your vehicle
Prior to driving your car for hundreds of miles, you should always get an inspection and a tune-up. A mechanic should check for low fluid levels, worn brakes, worn tires, and much more to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive. Check the recall website provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make sure no parts on your vehicle are potentially defective and subject to recall. Make sure you then leave plenty of time to have any possibly dangerous parts replaced before your embark on your trip.
Be careful around commercial vehicles
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are more than 10 million commercial trucks registered in the United States. At any given point in time, millions of tractor-trailers and similar commercial vehicles are on the roads across the United States. These trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and cause devastating damage and injury when involved in a collision with a smaller passenger vehicle. For this reason, you should always understand how to safely drive around commercial vehicles. This includes staying out of their blind spots—commonly referred to as “no-zones”–whenever possible. You should also never change lanes too closely in front of a truck, as the driver may not be able to slow down the heavy vehicle as quickly as needed to avoid a collision. Give trucks plenty of space on the highway and practice defensive driving when around commercial vehicles.
Avoid distracted driving
It is only natural that having your family in the car together for hours may cause many distractions. However, it is always dangerous to take your mind off of driving, take your hands off the wheel, or take your eyes off the road. Whenever possible, have another adult in the car to tend to children or handle other distractions as they will inevitably arise. Have a navigator in the car so you do not have to read a map or program a GPS while you are driving. Whenever possible, avoid eating or drinking and never use a handheld mobile device while behind the wheel. Have plenty of activities for children to keep them occupied so it will minimize your distracted driving.
Avoid fatigued driving
Road trips can involve many hours behind the wheel at a time and it is very easy for drivers to become fatigued or sleepy. If you are feeling tired, you should always pull over and rest or change drivers whenever possible. Try to keep driving shifts short so you do not lose focus. Do not rely on coffee or other energy boosters to stay awake. Instead, take plenty of time to sleep or rest in between driving shifts. Driving while fatigued can lead to serious accidents, especially if you nod off while you are driving.
Unfortunately, even if you take all necessary safety precautions before and during a road trip, collisions and other accidents that are beyond your control may still occur. In such situations, you may be entitled to compensation from any negligent drivers, companies, or government entities that led to your accident. You can hold negligent parties liable for your accident-related losses by filing a claim for personal injury in court. This process can be complicated, so you always want to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
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