Going on a road trip is the classic American vacation, but you may soon find that there are more dangers than you originally thought. From simply breaking down on the road to dangers from potentially criminals, there is no shortage of ways in which problems may emerge. Learning and navigating these different dangers is important to help ensure that you and everyone in your family remains safe while traveling.
What is the Most Dangerous Way to Travel?
Contrary to popular belief, hopping into an airplane and taking off into the air isn’t the most dangerous way to travel. In fact, driving yourself is the most dangerous way to travel, with the death rate being 1,623 times higher than traveling by plane to your destination. Therefore, by extension, road trips are one of the most dangerous types of vacation that a family can go on.
Common Dangers Associated with Road Trips
Knowing that traveling by passenger vehicle is one of the most dangerous forms of traveling is one thing but knowing what those dangers are is another. There are a number of notable dangers to be aware of, but the most prominent include:
- Mechanical breakdowns out on the road
- Being a victim of crime such as a robbery or assault
- Getting involved in a car accident
- Becoming stranded on the road without supplies
- Physical injuries resulting from sitting for too long
- Weather related dangers in new areas
With all of the above dangers taken into account, there are a number of tips anybody can use to help ensure a safer journey.
Staying Safe on the Road: Best Practices to Use
As mentioned, there are a number of best practices all drivers can use while on a road trip to reduce the potential dangers they face. First and foremost, however, all drivers need to remove distractions from their vehicles. By understanding the severity of distracted driving, a driver can improve their own driving skills while also staying safe. On top of removing distractions, use the following tips to avoid the aforementioned common dangers of the road:
1. Maintain an adequate following distance between cars
You may not be able to control the actions of other drivers on the road, but you can certainly control your own. To that end, aim to leave at least three to four seconds of space between you and other vehicles driving in front of you. This guarantees more reaction time in the event the person in front slams on their brakes or makes a sudden movement you weren’t expecting.
2. Take care of all preventative maintenance before you leave
One of the best ways to prevent mechanical breakdown from occurring under the hood of your car is to take care of the routine maintenance your vehicle requires on a consistent basis. Whether it’s tire rotations, topping off fluids, checking the brakes, or something else, have a mechanic look at your vehicle before your road trip starts.
3. Scan the road far ahead of your vehicle for road hazards
As a driver, maximizing your reaction time on the road is everything. To that end, scan the road at least ten to twelve seconds ahead of you to see if anything is occurring. Whether it’s traffic, an object in the road, or something else, scanning so far ahead will allow you adequate time to prepare to reach whatever is ahead.
4. Avoid driving at night whenever possible
Even the best drivers can quickly lose control of their vehicle if they are tired. It’s always best to avoid driving at night if possible, which can admittedly be difficult on a road trip. At the very least, switch drivers often throughout the night so that a fresh driver is always at the wheel while the others in the vehicle catch up on sleep. As a general rule of thumb, however, two people should always be awake in the vehicle.
5. Keep your friends and family informed of your plans
Finally, if you are going on a road trip by yourself, keep all of your loved ones informed on your daily activities. In the event something goes wrong or you are the victim of a crime, knowing where you last were can help your family assist the authorities.
The Bottom Line
For the majority of travelers, dangers will not present themselves while they are on the open road. However, it’s still important to be prepared for anything that could occur so that you can react appropriately and quickly. Memorize each of the above tips for staying safe on a road trip to help ensure you and your family stay protected.