With the start of summer come plans for family road trips and vacations. If you’ll be taking a road trip or driving for an extended period of time for some other reason, it is necessary that you know how to identify drowsy driving and what to do about it so you don’t endanger yourself, your passengers or other motorists while you’re on the road. Below are three steps to staying awake at the wheel as identified in a study about drowsy driving for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
STEP 1 – Pay attention for signs of drowsy driving. Yawning frequently, drifting from your lane, hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road, blinking rapidly, not remembering the last few miles and missing your exit are all signs of drowsy driving.
STEP 2 – If you notice that you’re doing any of the behaviors mentioned above, it is time to pull over. Rolling the window down or cranking up the music seem like they ought to keep you alert, but the truth is, they do not. Instead of trying to power thru your trip, get off the road and take a break.
STEP 3 – Recharge. Park your car in a safe place, lock your doors and set the alarm on your cell phone. Take a nap and get some rest. When the alarm goes off, take a quick walk around the parking lot or through the nearest store. Then buy a cup of coffee or a snack. This will reenergize you for the next leg of your driving marathon.
For more safety tips like these, check out our Driving Safety blogs.
With the holidays just days away, many drivers are planning long distance holiday road trips to visit family and friends. Your road trip will go much smoother and will be much more enjoyable if you do a little extra planning in advance. Below are eight travel tips to help you plan for your road trip:
- Join a travel club – If you don’t already have a membership to a travel club, join one before you leave town. It will save you a lot of headaches if the unexpected happens while you’re on the road.
- Speaking of the “unexpected”… – Whenever you go on a long distance road trip, you should EXPECT the UNEXPECTED. Anticipate spending extra time on your road trip for whatever might come your way whether it’s a problem such as a flat tire or road construction that slows you down, or a nice surprise like happening upon a charming little town along your route or a tourist attraction that you didn’t know you’d be passing by. If the “unexpected” is a nice surprise, slow down and enjoy it.
- Check you air pressure – Before you leave town, check the air pressure in your tires, including the spare. Improper air pressure can lead to poor handling, lower gas mileage, and in extreme cases it can even cause overheating and a blowout.
- Take turns driving – Switch drivers often. It is safer to switch drivers frequently so no one gets tired or starts “zoning out” behind the wheel. Plus everyone gets a chance to enjoy the scenery while they are the passenger.
- Take frequent restroom breaks – As a rule, you should use the restroom every time you stop during your road trip. Even if you don’t think you have to go, go anyway. If you haven’t traveled your route before, you might not know when you’ll come across the next rest stop, gas station, etc.
- Plan rest days – If you’re driving from one side of the country to the other, your trip could take a few days. Build rest days into your travel schedule. This will give all drivers and passengers a chance to rest and regroup, not to mention it will be good for your car. Constant driving can be taxing on your car. If you take a break or two, your car will be less likely to overheat, breakdown, etc.
- Eat healthy – Roadside convenience stores aren’t exactly known for their healthy food options, so pack a cooler for your trip. When the munchies hit you in the car, you’ll be better off with a healthy snack like fruit, yogurt, juice, etc.
- Entertain the kids – If you’ll be traveling with children, your trip will be more enjoyable if the kids are entertained in the car. Bring travel games, books, magazines, a children’s music CD, etc. Plan to play games like “I Spy”, sing songs, and count blue cars or big rigs. If your kids are entertained, they are less likely to cry all the way to Grandma’s house making your ride more peaceful and enjoyable. And don’t forget their favorite blankets, stuffed, animals or other comfort items that might help them nap in the car.
For more tips, please check out 8 Travel Tips for a Holiday Weekend Road Trip.
Cold weather can cause all kinds of transportation problems, so don’t put off having your car inspected and serviced now. Below is a checklist of the most important areas of your car to review or inspect in order to be prepared for winter.
- Check all of the fluids. This includes oil, brake fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid.
- Have the battery serviced including cleaning the terminal ends and checking cables for wear. If it fails a load test or is more than four years old, replace it.
- Check tire tread for wear. If you drive on remote roads consider replacing all-season tires with snow tires for added traction in snow and ice.
- Make sure tires are inflated properly as cold temperatures will lower pressure. Specifications for your car are usually found on the edge of the door or in the glove box.
- Have your breaks inspected. Control on slick roads is key in the winter.
- Test defroster, heater, and all the lights including turn signals and headlights.
- Replace windshield wipers to ensure best visibility.
- Keep the gas tank full to prevent moisture freezing in the gas lines.
- Carry emergency items. Include a blanket, extra clothing plus boots, gloves, hat, ice scraper, snow shovel, flashlight, flares, kitty litter for traction, jumper cables, a phone charger, and maybe your favorite snacks to get you through that enormous traffic jam on the way home from work.
As everyone knows, there will be an increased number of children out on the street on Halloween. These kids are distracted by excitement, are poor judges of traffic threats, may have restricted movement and vision because of their costumes, and believe they are indestructible. With that in mind, motorists must be especially careful on Halloween night. The list of tips below will help keep motorists safe on this special night:
- Stay Home – If you don’t have to be anywhere, plan on an evening at home. Keep in mind Halloween festivities start as early as 4:00 PM. In fact, accidents involving pedestrians are four times more likely to occur between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM on this holiday than any other day.
- Use an Alternate Route – Try choosing a route that is less likely to be used by trick-or-treaters. There may already be kids on the streets when you leave work so plan accordingly.
- Discourage Teens from Driving – Keep inexperienced drivers off the road by giving them a ride or by planning activities to keep them at home.
- Slow Down – Keep your speed below the limit in residential areas to give yourself more time to stop, should a child dart out in front of you.
- Stay Alert – Watch the sidewalks and curbs where kids are walking. They may step out from between parked cars, so be aware. Stopped vehicles are likely to be letting out passengers that may cross in front of you, so don’t pass them.
- Avoid Distractions – Turn down your radio and don’t use a cell phone while driving.
- Signal – Let other drivers and pedestrians know what you are doing. If you are dropping off or picking up passengers, turn on your hazard lights. Use turn signals at intersections and when changing lanes.
- No Drinking – Don’t be distracted by the holiday parties that you might attend. There’s never an excuse to drink and drive.
With the holiday weekend just days away, many people are planning their first weekend road trip of the summer. And while a spur of the moment road trip might seem like a great idea, a little advanced planning will get you to your destination on time and in a safe manner. Below are eight driving safety tips to help you plan a successful road trip.
- Find cheap gas – Gas money can take up a significant amount of your road trip budget so plan ahead. With today’s technology, there are plenty of smart phone apps that can tell you where gas is least expensive. Download an app like GasBuddy to help you find the least expensive gas. If you don’t have a smart phone, figure out your gas budget ahead of time by using one of the many online fuel cost calculators to help you find the cheapest gas stations along your route.
- Pack a basic repair kit – Create your own basic repair kit by packing a few basics in a small box or duffle bag. Include items like a flashlight, roll of duct tape, pliers, and a variety of screwdrivers. Check online for roadside survival guides for other suggestions.
- Choose companions wisely – When you’re cramped in a car for a long amount of time, you can get to know someone really well. And if you and your companions know each other really well, time and distance will fly by you and you arrive at your destination in what seems like no time. But if you make poor choice in your travel companion(s), a long rind may have you wishing your traveled by yourself. Think carefully about the people you take with you. Make sure you can get along with them for however long the distance you’ll be traveling. Nothing can ruin a good friendship like a bad road trip.
- Break up the drive – If you’ll be on the road for many hours, don’t try to be a super hero and drive straight through. You won’t be as alert at 9:00pm as you were at 6:30am. Plan several restroom, stretch and snack breaks along your route. A 15-20 minute break every few hours will be good for your mind and body. If you have multiple licensed drivers traveling with you, take turns driving every couple hours.
- Know the law – While you may be excited to get to your destination, a hefty speeding fine or another moving violation can drain your travel budget in a hurry. Additionally, speeding can be a danger to you and to other motorists on the road. Obey the speed limit and use that cruise control to keep a steady pace on the interstate. Also, if you are passing through multiple states, be aware of cell phone and texting laws. It is best to avoid distracted driving all together, but if you must use your phone, know the laws. Some states do not allow the use of phones in construction zones, school zones, etc. Use your stretch breaks for non-emergency phone calls and texting. Do not text while behind the wheel.
- Pay attention to the dash – Besides minding the speed limit, your dash can alert you to any potential problems with your vehicle. If something goes wrong, a warning light on your dash may tip you off before it is too late.
- Bring a paper map – With today’s technology, it might seem silly to bring a paper road map on your trip. But what will you do if your GPS malfunctions where you’re in the middle of nowhere? A paper map makes the perfect backup and you can use it as a travel log too. Write notes about your trip on the map and make it personal. You’ll enjoy looking at it when you dig it out of a box 10 years from now.
- Bring your mother-in-law – Even though we warned you to choose your travel companions wisely, what can we say? If you bring your mother-in-law, you’re trip is sure to be one to remember for one reasons or another!