Morgan Pritchett
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5 Road Trip Safety and Travel Tips for the Summer

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Guadalupe Mountains from Texas State Highway 54
Photo: Adavyd via CC

Now that COVID-19 vaccinations have become more widely available in the U.S., road trips and extended vacations are in order. If you’re planning on going with the ground route, there are a few practical ways to stay safe and informed this summer while you’re cruising the highways of America.

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1. Inspect the vehicle

Before you leave home, you’ll want to inspect your vehicle for any potential issues. The last thing you’ll want to deal with is a flat tire or an overheated engine in the middle of nowhere. A few weeks before your trip, schedule service at your local dealer to make sure everything’s running well under the hood. You can do your own inspection to see if the tires need air or if the windshield wipers need to be replaced.

2. Plan ahead

Even though technology is incredible, it still has its flaws. Map out your route and stops ahead of time and be sure to take screenshots of the directions. That way, even if your GPS fails, you still know which exits to take to get to the right place. It’s also a good idea to see if there are any tolls along your route. See if you can sign up for a temporary pass to avoid dealing with cash and coins or fill up a small plastic container with your toll money before you leave.

3. Gather “just in case” materials

It’s always best to be prepared with the proper tools and phone numbers you may need, just in case you’re in an accident or if the car breaks down. A typical emergency kit includes items like jumper cables, flares or a triangle reflector, a first-aid kit, a flashlight and extra batteries, bottled water, and a handful of non-perishable foods. You never know what could happen!

4. Go on “Do Not Disturb” mode

Under no circumstances should you text and drive. The same goes for updating directions, scrolling on social media, or any other use of your phone while driving. If your car has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or Bluetooth, enable one of them so you can keep your hands on the wheel. If you’re traveling with friends or family, designate one of them as the phone person to handle texts, calls, music selection, and directions.

5. Buckle up

As tempting as it may be for you or your passengers to get comfy on those long stretches of road, never unbuckle your seat belt while the key is in the ignition. If someone needs to adjust, pull over so they can do so safely. According to the IIHS, seat belts saved approximately 14,955 lives and could have prevented 2,549 deaths in 2017. Other than possibly losing your life, you could lose some money if you got a ticket for not wearing your seat belt.

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A road trip is a great opportunity to see the country and make long-lasting memories with friends and family. Staying safe is an integral part of the journey. If you’re looking for ways to stay entertained during your trip, check out these fun games for both kids and adults.