Often, people take safety for granted. When you’re planning a trip, you don’t plan for a crash or hitting an animal. And most trips proceed without incident. If unsafe situations were commonplace, you probably wouldn’t travel.
But, there are several steps you can take that will maximize your chances for a safe road trip. In addition to taking steps to prevent accidents, you should also make plans for recovering from mishaps by looking at AAA roadside assistance and other options and ensuring you have the kind of insurance you need.
Tip #1 – Check Your Tires
Your tires are the contact point between your car and the road, and if something goes wrong with them, you could be left in a dangerous situation. So before you travel, check the pressure in your tires. You want it to match the manufacturer’s recommendations. Not only will your car handle better, but you’ll also get better fuel efficiency with properly inflated tires.
Additionally, you’ll want to check your tire tread. If your tires are worn, they’ll be more likely to go flat on your tire, and there are only certain situations in which your auto insurance covers flat tires. Even worse, worn tires could lead to a loss of traction, especially on wet roads.
Also, if you’re still driving around with your studded snow tires when preparing for a summer road trip, don’t embark without first getting your winter tires switched over for regular tires. Studded tires are bad for the roads, and you have less traction on summer roads when you have studs.
Tip #2 – Inspect Your Brakes
If you notice a vibration or shaking when you use your brakes, it may be time to get new brake pads. Also, when you bring your car in for an oil change, ask them to check your brakes while working on the oil.
Your brakes will get a lot of wear during a road trip, so if they’re getting close to needing new pads or rotors, you should do it before your trip so you don’t get in a dangerous situation with improperly functioning brakes.
Tip #3 – Check Your Fluids
Your fluids are a great indicator of potential problems. For example, you may have a leak if your transmission fluid is low. If it’s dirty, you may have transmission issues.
If you’ll need an oil change during your trip, you should probably have it done before your trip so you can avoid taking the time to do it while you’re on vacation.
When checking fluids, don’t forget to fill your windshield wiper fluid. You’ll probably run into a few new hatches of bugs and a couple of afternoon thunderstorms, and if you run out of washer fluid, you could have difficulty maintaining a clear line of sight as your windshield gets dirtier.
Tip #4 – Have a Professional Look Over Your Vehicle
Since a road trip demands a lot out of your car, you want to ensure everything is in top shape before you start. The strain of putting on a lot of miles will often cause things to break down if they’re beginning to weaken.
If you’re getting an oil change or having your tires rotated, see if the mechanic can add a quick inspection to their tasks. Otherwise, schedule an appointment to make sure you address any issues before they become significant problems that could ruin your trip.
Dirty engine oil will cause friction in your car’s engine and working parts and lead to wear, and in a worst-case situation, could cause your engine to seize.
Tip #5 – Create Your Playlist Before Starting Your Trip
You could certainly take your whole trip without a playlist, but if you like to listen to your favorite music and podcasts, you should make your playlist before your trip. Choosing what to listen to as you’re driving can be a distraction, and distracted driving is dangerous driving.
Include music you like and mix it with podcasts and audiobooks. With a good playlist, your time on the road can be far more enjoyable and pass more quickly.
Tip #6 – Purchase the Insurance Policy You Need
You’ll need liability insurance, and you probably already have it. But look over your policy to ensure the limits are adequate for your risk. For example, the minimum liability insurance required by most states is woefully insufficient for realistic property damage and injury costs following a crash.
You should also decide if you need comprehensive or collision coverage. For example, if your car is newer than 10 years old, you should probably ensure you have that coverage.
Liability coverage pays for the damage you do to other parties in a crash. Collision insurance pays for damage done to your vehicle in a crash. And comprehensive coverage pays for your losses following weather damage and hitting a wild animal. For example, comprehensive coverage will pay for losses if you get caught in a hail storm.
Since hitting a deer is possible on any road trip, you might want to make sure you have comprehensive coverage, and you might even want to lower your deductible during your trip.
You might want to add rental reimbursement to your coverage before you go on a road trip, considering if something happens to your car, you won’t have any other way to get around on your trip if you can’t afford a rental.
Tip #7 – Get Roadside Assistance Coverage
Roadside assistance can usually be added to your current insurance policy from your insurance provider. But that’s not the only way to get roadside assistance. You can also get a standalone policy from AAA or another similar provider.
One benefit of emergency roadside coverage from your insurer is that since it’s added to your policy, you won’t have to worry about making a separate payment.
A primary benefit of getting roadside coverage from AAA is its plans give members access to discounts at hotels, museums, and activities around the country.
Tip #8 – Choose Your Route But Be Flexible
Check road conditions and weather throughout your trip. Be aware of the dangers that you may encounter in the street. You might be better off changing your route to avoid a major storm or time-consuming construction. If you’re visiting California, you might not have to worry about severe afternoon thunderstorms, but if you’re driving through South Carolina, they’re a realistic possibility.
Tip #9 – Take Refreshing Breaks
One of the best things about a road trip is you’re not tied to a strict schedule like you are when flying. Sometimes, you’ll benefit from taking a little bit longer break to get some exercise or take a rest.
Driving while exhausted can be dangerous. Taking a refreshing break from travel can help you stay alert, improve your mood, and drive more safely.
A little preparation and smart actions along the way can go a long way in making your road trip as safe as possible so you can enjoy your trip to its full potential.
Author Bio:Melanie Musson writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, Clearsurance.com. She’s passionate about helping others understand how an appropriate insurance policy can protect their financial stability now and in the future.
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