Our Pacific Northwest weather is improving. When the gray skies turn blue and the rain lets up a bit, for many, it’s time for a road trip. There’s nothing like hitting the open road on a sunny day. Road trips are fun, but you never know what you might encounter while driving, whether it be car trouble, adverse weather, or other travel complications. Be prepared for any hurdles you might face on your journeys by following these road trip safety tips.

  • Give your car a check-up. Before your trip, take your car in for maintenance. Make sure everything is in good working order and fluids are topped up.
  • GPS/Maps. Most of us have GPS on our phones now, but what if you lose your signal during your trip? Map your course on an old school paper map before you leave, just to make sure you’ll know how to reach your destination should something happen with your GPS. Or, you could print out the directions from Google maps to keep on hand as a backup.
  • Stock your car. Keep your car and your passengers fueled and safe on your trip and be prepared for any situation you might meet along the way.
    • Necessities. They may seem like a no brainer, but you don’t want to forget the following:
      • Driver’s license
      • Car registration and insurance card
      • Car manual
      • Extra key – do not keep them on the same key ring
      • Spare tire and changing kit
      • Portable phone charger
    • If you’ll be driving through remote areas in which gas stations are limited, you may want to pack these items:
      • Full gas can
      • Quart of Oil
      • Jug of Coolant or Water
      • Wiper Fluid
      • Roadside assistance Kit. This one from Top Gear contains 66 safety items including jumper cables, flashlight and first aid kit, etc, for just over $40
      • If you don’t want to purchase the whole assistance kit and want to make your own, include these essentials:
        • First aid kit
        • Jumper cables
        • Flashlight
        • Light sticks
        • Reflective emergency triangle
    • To keep your passengers comfortable:
      • Water
      • Snacks – according to KOA, some snacks you should keep in your car include beef jerky, protein bars, fruits and veggies. To read their whole list, click here.
      • Hand wipes
      • Blankets
      • Tissues
      • Toilet paper – you never know
    • Other items you may want to keep on hand:
      • Duct tape
      • Swiss Army knife (or similar tool)
      • Paper towels
      • Bungee cords
      • Cable ties
      • Garbage bags
  • Consider roadside assistance. If you aren’t into the car maintenance DIY, you may want to get a AAA card in case you confront challenges along the road.
  • Prepare for the weather. Get a weather app on your phone and before you go, check the regions you’ll be driving through to ensure that you’re ready, come rain or shine.
  • Rest up. According to the National Safety Council, the crash risk for driving on 4-5 hours of sleep is equivalent to the crash risk of a drunk driver with a 0.08 blood alcohol content. If you get drowsy while driving, AAA recommends:
    • Switching drivers.
    • Traveling at times of the day when you are normally awake.
    • Avoiding heavy foods.
    • Avoiding medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
    • Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
    • Taking a cat nap, 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Buckle up. Yes, it seems obvious, but if you’re one of those that don’t, know that wearing a seat belt cuts the risk of injury or death by 50%.
  • Stay hydrated. You can easily get dehydrated while riding in a car for long periods of time. Running the AC or heat, and having the sun shining through your windows can all keep the air in the car dry. Keep water on hand for all passengers and drink about every hour. It may make for more bathroom breaks, but everyone will stay hydrated.

Now that you know how to keep you and your car protected, there should have little worries on your trip. Relax and enjoy the open road – just do it safely and comfortably.