Whether you plan to take a long drive for a vacation, a road trip, or a far-off family gathering, there are several steps you can take to make your journey safer. The team at Tom Wood Auto Group knows how important safe driving is, so we put together some useful safety tips for you to consider before taking a long drive.

Check Your Vehicle

"Chisos Mountains from Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive" licensed under CC By 2.0 via Flickr by Jonathan Cutrer

Instead of risking a breakdown in an unfamiliar location, inspect your car carefully or take it to an experienced mechanic who can find any issues and repair them before they become dangerous or difficult to repair. Even small mechanical or electrical issues can cause serious problems when you're alone on the road, so keeping an eye out for them is vital. Check the levels of all of your vehicle's fluids, including oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and radiator water. Test your lights to make sure that they all work properly.

If you want to tow a trailer, camper, or secondary vehicle while you drive, make sure your trailer hitch, trailer brake light interface, and any other pieces of equipment you might use are in good condition. Pulling a camper or trailer without the rear lights connected and activated can lead to significant financial penalties. You could have to pay a ticket, or you could become involved in a lawsuit with another driver after a crash.

You should also check your tire pressure. You can find the optimal pressure in the owner's manual, and if you don't already have one, you can buy an inexpensive tire gauge at many hardware stores and auto shops. If your tires are low, you can fill them at many gas stations and car washes. After you fill your tires, check them again to make sure they're not overfilled or too low. The wrong tire pressure can lead to excess wear and an eventual blowout.

Check your brake pads to make sure they're not worn, and replace them if you start hearing squeaking or squealing sounds when you use your brakes. Driving on deteriorated brake pads can cause rotor damage, which is far more expensive than replacing brake pads. It can also make your brakes less effective and keep you from stopping in time to prevent a wreck.

Finally, if you haven't driven the car you want to take on your trip in a while, it's wise to take it for a short drive around the block to make sure it's acting as it should. Make sure that your vehicle is suited for the kind of trip you want to take, and if it isn't quite right for the job, consider renting a vehicle that's more suitable for your needs.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Even the best preparations can't prevent every disaster. An emergency kit can keep you comfortable and safe if you have a crash or your car breaks down and you need to wait for assistance. Pack enough nonperishable food and bottled water to last a day or two for each person who plans to go on the trip. If you get stuck in an area without cell phone reception or regular traffic, rescue could take a while. It's also a good idea to take some extra blankets and clothing.

In cold weather, take thick blankets, chemical warming packs, a few extra layers of clothing, heavy jackets, an ice scraper, and a portable snow shovel to free your vehicle if you get stuck. In hot weather, pack reflective blankets, lightweight clothing, handheld fans with extra batteries, a cooler with ice, towels, and a sunshade. Regardless of the overall driving conditions, you should carry a first-aid kit. The bandages, cleansing agents, and medicines inside can help stabilize a person after a car wreck or another injury until additional help arrives.

Plan Your Trip in Detail

The more you know about your route and the possible stops along with it, the safer you will be. Keep your vehicle's range in mind, and make sure you take a route with enough gas stations or electric vehicle charging stations to refuel it along the way. Planning out your stops ahead of time can also help you avoid the irritation of getting low on gas and having to pay more than you'd like to fill your tank. Planning regular breaks can also help you avoid dirty gas stations and other establishments and prevent bathroom accidents when you travel with small children.

If your trip will take a few days, consider mapping out the rest stops along your route. These are excellent places to relax or take a nap to make sure you don't get too tired as you drive. Most have snacks and restroom facilities, and some have on-site security.

Go With Someone Else

By taking another driver along, you can both take turns behind the wheel and drive longer distances before you need to stop and rest. This reduces the risk either of you will fall asleep while driving. Having an entertaining conversation with a companion can also reduce the monotony of a long drive. If possible, schedule your trip at the same time as a friend with a similar destination, or go on a drive with your partner.

Learn to Read a Map

Most vehicles and smartphones come with global positioning satellite, or GPS, systems that give drivers access to digital maps and directions. A computer system gives verbal directions while people drive, telling them exactly where to turn, which route is fastest, and how far away their destination is. However, these systems can fail. You may not be able to use the navigation system in your car after a mechanical failure, and your smartphone can only help you navigate if you're in an area with good reception.

Keep a physical map of the area where you're traveling, and bring a compass or learn another method to determine your direction. That way, you can avoid getting lost even when you can't use electronic navigation.

At Tom Wood Auto Group, you can find a variety of excellent vehicles that are perfect for a long drive or a short trip. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have or to schedule vehicle maintenance before your next trip. We offer superior selection, financing options, and customer service.

Categories: Service