Roadtrip Safety: 5 Things You Need To Know


The official kick-off to summer often begins with roadtrips, whether it’s visiting family and friends or simply taking a few days offto relax after a long winter. This time of year marks a busy season for driverson the roads. With more vehicles out there, what can drivers do to remain safeduring these trips?

Summertime and warm weather bring excitement, but also sometragedies. Over the last several years, January and February generallyexperienced the fewest motor-vehicle fatalities, while July,August, and October experienced the most. Increasedroad traffic can lead to more accidents, but this doesn't have to happen. By practicingcertain skills, all drivers can help keep themselves and others safer on theroads. Here are five driver safety tips for your summer road trips:

1. Prepare forthe Unexpected

First, it’s important to remember that many people areanxious to get to where
they’re going. Their mind is on their destination and not on the drive to their

For that reason, drivers need to watch out for theunexpected. Look for vehicles that have a fair number of bags visible — andweekend getaway supplies. That’s one sign the driver may have their mind on thedestination and not on their driving.

To give yourself more time, greater awareness, and lessstress, make sure to
maintain a 4-second minimum following distance between your vehicle and thevehicle in front of you. This space allows you to stop in time if the driverahead of you brakes quickly and harshly. If the roads are wet or you have aheavy vehicle, increaseyour following distance to allow enough timeto stop.

To determine what the following distance should be, choosea stationary object, such as a sign or post, and then count the seconds fromthe time the vehicle's back bumper in front of you passes that object untilyour vehicle's front bumper reaches the same landmark.

Whenever possible, avoid staying directly beside anothervehicle. Rather, Leave
Yourself an Out®. Thesafest position is with few or no vehicles around you. This
space gives you room to move if you suddenly need to. It can also give thedrivers around you room to move if they’re not paying attention to the traffic.

Another thing to watch out for during holiday weekends isroad rage. While many drivers are excited to get to their destinations, manymay also be frustrated because of traffic or road construction delays.Impatient drivers may run red lights or attempt to squeeze into spaces intraffic where there isn’t much room.

Expect these actions and adjust to them. Remember thatthe right-of-way is given, not taken. If someone is determined to take theright-of-way from you, allow it. The few seconds you lose will not prevent youfrom reaching your destination — but safely giving those seconds up will helpensure you reach your destination safely.

2. Watch Out forDistractions

Long weekends bring with them their own set of driverdistractions. Prior to setting out, make sure to account for additionaltraffic and road construction. Have alternative routes planned for suchinstances.

If you’re usinga navigation system, plan your route before getting onthe road so you can concentrate on the drive. To avoid an added distraction,ensure the GPS is providing voice directions and not only visual directions.Taking your eyes and mind off the road for just a few seconds means you’ll needan extra few seconds to refocus on your driving environment. Those few secondscan mean the difference between getting into a crash or avoiding one.

There’s no question that a mobile phone creates a hugedistraction for many drivers. Keep your phone silent during your trip. Let yourpassenger be the co-pilot and do the texting and calls if needed. If drivingalone, place your phone somewhere out of reach so that it doesn’t causedistractions. If you need to make a call or check your device, pull over to asafe location first.

3. Seat BeltsSave Lives

There is no question that seat belts save lives and reduceinjuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 14,955lives were saved in 2017 from seatbelts alone. Making the decision for you andyour passengers to wear seat belts helps ensure that all inside your vehiclestay safe. Protecting your family and passengers during busy traffic is yourresponsibility as a driver.

With traffic and the risks of sudden stops and quick lanechanges, wearing a seat belt is a good option to help reduce injuries andfatalities during the holiday weekend.

It’s important to remember that when something in motionstops suddenly,
anything or anyone not restrained will continue to move in that direction. That
includes any occupants of the vehicle. A properly worn seatbelt keeps each ofthe occupants upright, including the driver, and it allows the driver to stayin control of the vehicle.

4. Watch Out forDrunk Drivers

There’s no question that drinking and driving is a hugeproblem on holiday
weekends. Drinking is a common aspect of celebrations and unfortunately, peopletend to forget they’re in no condition to get behind the wheel of a vehicleafter consuming alcohol.

In the United States, about37 people die each day in crashes thatinvolve drunk driving. Roughly one person every 39 minutes. And it’s not justthe driver who is at risk. Innocent people are also involved when someonechooses to drive drunk.

Because of the additional threat of drunk drivers on theroad, it’s essential to apply the Smith System principle of Get the Big Picture®. As adriver, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you are always payingattention to what’s happening on the road around you. Look at the traffic oneither side of you and use your mirrors to see what is going on behind you.

5. Plan Ahead

Although many people are anxious to reach theirdestinations, heading out when the traffic is most extreme may extend thelength of the trip and cause added frustrations.

Consider traveling during off-peak times. The riskiest timeto travel is right after
most people finish work on Friday afternoons. Driving during off-peak hoursmeans fewer vehicles and less congestion on the roads. Giving yourself extratime to get to your destination helps reduce some of the stress about arrivingon time.

Stay as patient as possible. Understand that driving duringlong weekends takes time and other drivers will exhibit risky behaviors. Youhave no control over their actions — but you can plan to stay calm behind thewheel. Controlling your actions is all you can do to keep yourself and yourpassengers safe.

Keep Yourselfand Your Family Safe

Knowing how to manage everything from harsh weather todistracted drivers on the roads during holiday weekends provides you with toolsthat can save lives.



John R Simms

Senior Risk Advisor

Acrisure Midwest

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