Road Trips are not dangerous if you prepare your vehicle, plan your route carefully, and practice defensive driving techniques. You can stay safe by ensuring you have a breakdown cover policy, an emergency kit, and knowledge of what to do in the event of an incident. Drive during daytime hours to reduce the risk of accidents and book accommodation in advance.
Road trip safety should be something you consider when planning a cross-country road trip. Use these 14 road trip safety tips as a guide so that you know exactly what to do if you are driving alone.
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Prepare your car
It’s important to prepare your car for a road trip to minimize the risk of a breakdown during your journey. One of the biggest dangers of a road trip is breaking down due to the risk of fast-moving traffic. If you are not comfortable checking your car yourself then take it to a mechanic for a vehicle inspection prior to departure.
Give yourself time
When you are planning your route, don’t schedule excessive amounts of driving each day. Being rushed and stressed isn’t a good combination on a road trip. Check the weather in advance of departure and if possible complete your journey during favorable conditions.
Use your seatbelt
Wearing a seat belt is an absolute must when you are trying to stay safe on a road trip. Wearing a seatbelt will significantly reduce the chance of serious injury in the event of a road accident.
Carefully plan your route
Getting lost should be a real concern when Planning A Road Trip. Make sure you use a GPS to give you directions. Google Maps or Waze are my favorites but there is no substitute to having a physical map in your car just in case! When planning your route, look for rest stops or places to have lunch at.
Mount your phone securely
Make sure you don’t run out of battery by having an in-car phone charger. I also use a car phone mount to hold my mobile in a secure place while driving. I like the ones which clip to an air vent as it is easily visible. This means I can follow directions easily without taking my eyes off the road.
Get a breakdown cover policy
If you do break down during your road trip, you may need roadside assistance. Make sure you have a policy that suits all of your needs. It’s a good idea to have a policy that facilitates the transfer of your car back home. Make sure you have all the documents with you and the contact numbers saved on your phone.
Take a car emergency kit
Damaged tires and faulty batteries are two of the most common breakdown causes during a road trip. A car emergency kit includes many items which can help. Crucially they contain jump leads, a warning triangle, and a high visibility jacket. Making yourself visible and being able to restart a car with a flat battery are two ways to stay safe on a road trip.
Check your spare tire
As discussed above, damaged tires are one of the most common reasons for breakdowns. Check that your spare tire isn’t damaged and you have the equipment to install it on your car if required. Make sure you have a car jack in the trunk in case you need it.
Fill up the gas tank
It’s possible that you could drive long distances without finding a place to fill up the tank. At the start of your road trip go and find a cheap gas station and fill up the tank of your car. This will give you maximum range, it’s one of my favorite road trip safety tips. We’ve got a post on How To Save Money On Gas for your road trip which may be useful!
Focus on the road ahead
It’s absolutely crucial that you focus on the road while driving on your road trip. Being aware of your surroundings and making sure you are well-rested is one of the best ways to stay safe. Don’t text while driving and avoid eating on the go. When you need a break, stop at a rest stop to recuperate.
Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks while driving is an important way to reduce the risk of driver fatigue. Check out our article on how frequently you should take breaks on a road trip for more information. You should take a break every two hours for at least 15 minutes. Rest stops are great places to get a coffee and use the bathroom before continuing your journey.
Book accomodation in advance
Having clarity around your accommodation is a great way to reduce the stress of a road trip. If you are stuck in traffic late in the day, it’s a good idea to stop for the night to rest. Driving at night is more dangerous for a variety of reasons. Driver fatigue is more common and reduced visibility can lead to compromised depth perception and hazard awareness.
When you are Planning A Road Trip it’s a good idea to book where you are staying in advance. Check out Booking.com and see what deals you can find along your route!
Practice defensive driving
Stay safe on the road by maintaining a safe distance from all other vehicles. Be observant of any hazards and always drive according to the speed limit. Don’t be too trusting of other road users. Just because someone’s indicators are in consider that it could be an error.
Don’t drive when tired
Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents and one of the main reasons why it’s more dangerous to drive at night.
If possible do the majority of your driving during the daytime. If this isn’t possible, check out our article on How To Drive Long Distances Without Getting Tired
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Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. Iain writes about a variety of topics including backpacking, planning road trips, and car camping.