Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips

Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips

Katie BassettKatie Bassett


Summer is vastly approaching and that vacation you have been planning for months is so close, you can almost feel the ocean’s gentle waves sweep over your toes. Conversely, the actual logistics of the road trip are a little less enjoyable to visualize. For many of us, summer vacations mean road trips where everyone piles into the car, giddy about the much needed R&R. Those fantasies of the feeling of warm sand and the smell of salty serenity fades into impatience, anxiety and boredom of being cramped in a car watching the hours crawl by.

‘Can we eat?’

‘Can we go to the bathroom?

‘Can we change the music?’

‘Are we there yet?’

‘Are we lost?’

The echo of these relentless questions is pretty daunting and not to mention distracting for a driver. On top of that, highway navigation on a long road trip is stressful. To offset these inevitable issues, we look for ways to cut time and get to our destination faster. Yet we often forget about the risks associated with multitasking, driving distractions and overall road trip safety. As harmless (and sometimes as inevitable) as these seem, the combination of an irritable, unfocused driver and a confusing, congested highway is the perfect recipe for a road trip accident. In fact, over 424,000 people were injured from distracted driving accident in 2013, and numbers continue to climb.

Safety Tips for Summer Road TripsTips to Avoid a Road Trip Accident

Are you starting to resent the decision of driving to your destination? Don’t fret. I don’t know if a road trip professional exists, but I have seen my fair share of lengthy road trips. Growing up, my family would take road trips, some extending up to 16 hours, at least twice a year. Now, living in southern California, I am always venturing out on weekend trips, which range in travel time. Although distracted driving does have serious consequences that should be taken very seriously, there are road trip safety practices you can implement as a driver to avoid a road trip accident. Wherever you are headed to this summer, follow some of these safety tips below:

  1. Become familiar with the route. Although you don’t need to become an expert in the highways you will be taking, I have learned that road trips are much smoother when you have a general sense of the route. At minimum, it is smart to know the different highways you will be on and when you will be merging on off one and onto another. I always take it one step further to check out where the rest stops are and different food options, so I can better plan.
  2. Set up your GPS before you start driving. Your navigation device, whether it be your phone or another GPS system, is arguably one of the biggest driving distractions that can cause a road trip accident. Far too often our technology suffers from a glitch, causing your navigational device to turn off, reboot, or stop working in general (total first world problem). While this is seemingly an easy fix, it should never be done while you are driving. If you are familiar with the route, as mentioned above, a sudden glitch shouldn’t be as stressful as you would think.
  3. Be aware of traffic. Maps will generally indicate areas under construction and it is important to check for these things before you get into the car. That way, you aren’t looking for alternative routes while driving.
  4. Create rules for your kids. Creating a game plan of when you’ll be stopping to eat, getting out stretch, using the restroom, etc. keeps your child on a schedule. Obviously circumstances will arise, so you should be flexible with your schedule, but giving your kids a schedule ahead of time prevent those redundant questions. Additionally, basic rules, like listening to movies through headphones only, are good ways of alleviating driving distractions.
  5. Have a reliable front seat passenger. A dependable passenger can make your life as the driver much easier on a road trip. Allow someone to sit up front that won’t be napping for the duration of the trip. It is nice to have someone alert and is able to assist you with any issues that would be considered driving distractions. Maybe not as serious as an emergency exit passenger on the plane, but a front seat passenger should be ready to help the driver, when needed!
  6. Don’t eat while driving. While most claim that eating and driving is easy to do and it saves time, a driver does not have full control of the car while eating. Additionally, a driver’s mind isn’t focused on the road (we can’t help thinking about how great that burger tastes!). Both of these factors are major causes of road trip accidents that can easily be nixed if you stop at a location to eat.
  7. Stop at rest stops often. Staying alert is a top priority for drivers on summer road trips, and while you may not feel lethargic, a driver’s eyes naturally become strained. Designate time to stop at rest areas, so your family can get out and stretch. Not only will this help the driver remain alert, your kids can let out some energy.
  8. Pull over when you are lost. While pulling out your phone or fiddling with your GPS might be the easy fix when you take a wrong exit, devices are a huge cause of car accidents while on road trips, as previously mentioned. You could argue that a passenger can assist you with this issue, but I personally always feel better when I look at a map and know where I’m going, instead of blindly following direction.

Most of these distractions are a result of our need to multitask and “save time,” and I will confess that I’m guilty of this too. We want to get to our final destination as quickly as possible, so we often look for ways to cut time. However, is that extra ten minutes at a rest stop really detrimental to your vacation? Here’s my best advice: lengthen your estimated travel time to relieve the pressure of getting to your final destination. Each family will be different, but for every three hours in the car, I tack on an additional 30 minutes to my trip. Road trip safety should be a top priority when it comes to your vacation. Take the extra time to be safe and avoid road trip accidents.

Katie BassettAbout Katie Bassett

Katie primarily focuses her research and writing efforts on youth safety and development. Right now, she is concentrating on advocacy projects for Mayor Law.

View all posts by Katie Bassett here.

35 Comments on “Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips”

  1. We do love road trips and take them often,remember food,water and a first-aid kit are a must especially if there are kids on the trip!

  2. It is ALWAYS a must to be prepared before going on road trips! This is an awesome and very helpful article. We will be going on vacations soon because of Spring and Summer approaching so I printed out this article and put it in our vacation planning folder! Thank you so much and I love these ideas!

    1. Wow, thanks Stephanie! We are so glad that you found this post so helpful. You’re so right! The more you can prepare ahead of time the better. Hope you have some great vacations!

  3. These are all great tips. We have road trips every year and could really use all of these!! traveling with kids is totally another story :)

    1. haha, yes traveling with kids is really something else! Glad you found this helpful!

  4. Thank you for posting such a great article. I had fun & learned while reading this post. Everything will be very useful & helpful. We love taking road trips during holidays & vacation.

  5. Thank you for the very helpful tips. Hopefully we will be heading out on a road trip this summer and these will be on my mind.

    1. Thank you, Desirae! Glad you found this helpful. Hope your road trip goes well!

  6. I love roads trips but they can be so hard with my boys cuz they fight 8n the car and always wanna stop. Thanks for some tips

  7. Thank you for sharing! We are very organized and ready for any trip we take with our kids! The entire drive, stay, drive home is completely mapped out and discussed prior! Sometimes, anxiety helps…others, not so much!

    1. Wow, sounds like your family has some smooth road trips, Megan! That’s awesome. Glad you liked this post. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Thank you this is very helpful. I will be doing my 1st long road trip with the kids and this gives me some good heads up and way to prepare.

  9. Thank you so much for this. Me and my fiancé are taking our 4 kids to visit family this summer. This information will be in my mind the whole way. Thanks again ?

    1. Awesome! Glad it was helpful, Ashley. Sounds like quite a road trip! Good luck!

  10. Road trips can be so much fun and stressful. I always make sure I bring plenty of snacks,drinks and activities for the kids and we stop a lot just to take a break from sitting so much.

  11. As a busy single working Mom of 3, I definitely know the importance of creating a routine for any Road Trip with the kids. I make sure I have snacks, toys, and a variety of music to keep my kids pleasantly occupied and make plenty of rest stops to allow them to use the bathroom as needed and stretch their legs

    1. Exactly, Nicole. It sounds like you’re really great at this. Hope you’ve got some fun trips planned in the future!

  12. This is perfect article to read. We love taking road trips during long vacation & holidays. I will take notes of the things that I am not aware of. This is very useful. Thanks for posting. I would love to see more of this

    1. Glad you found this useful, Maria. And we appreciate the suggestion for more posts like this.

  13. I find that pit stops are so important. Everyone needs a break from the road. Stretching your legs and having a bite to eat help so much. :) Love your tips. :)

    1. Yes they are! Hope you’ve got some fun ones planned in the future though! :)

  14. Road trips can be so much fun and stressful at the same time! We always make certain we pack plenty of entertainment/snacks/water for the whole family. Plus check our emergency kit in the trunk and scout the trip via maps like Google maps to see what the terrain is like before we leave.

    1. It sounds like you’ve got it down, Deborah! Hope you’ve got a fun vacation planned soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.