Driving Safety Tips for Long Road Trips

coolant pouring from container into engine system

Road trips can be fun. They can also be long. Really long. These tips will help you make the most of your road trip by getting where you are going safely, with fewer problems.

Check the Car

    Before you embark on your journey, make sure to get a tune-up. Have the tires, fluids, battery, and air conditioner checked out by a professional. While you're at it, make sure you have jumper cables and a spare tire stored in the trunk of your car.

      Shortly before departing, take 10 minutes to figure out where everything is, and take a few practice runs at turning on the lights, the signals, the hazard lights, and the parking brake.

      Take Care of Yourself

      A man and woman eat fruit near a car.

        Don't forget to get plenty of sleep. Experts recommend getting at least 7 hours of sleep for two consecutive nights prior to any road trip. When you're on the road, consider taking a break from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This is when your body is naturally more drowsy, and you're less likely to feel alert and aware.

            Everyone knows snacks are an important part of any road trip, but what kind of snacks you bring with you is incredibly important. Carrots, almonds, and other vitamin-rich foods will keep you feeling aware and awake during the trip. While a strong coffee can give you an initial burst, the caffeine will wear off and leave you feeling even more tired and lethargic. Instead, fuel your body with natural vitamins.

            You should also make sure to stop every two hours to stretch.

              Stay Busy

              Driving for hours on end with nothing to do can be incredibly boring, so make sure to stay busy. Chewing gum, for example, gives you something to do while you're driving, and it keeps your muscles engaged.

                Sitting up straight will help you avoid falling into a trancelike, zoned-out state that can lead to accidents.

                  If you find yourself losing focus or feeling zoned out, take a whiff of something peppermint-scented. Peppermint gives your body a natural boost that reduces fatigue.

                  Provide Entertainment

                  Two kids watch a show in their car.

                    Having entertainment is especially important if you are driving with kids. Make sure to stock the car with toys, puzzles, and games. Download some movies onto a tablet and get some games they can play that will engage their brains and their hands, so they spend less time harassing you and each other.

                      Audiobooks and comedy performances are another great distraction. Laughter is a great way to stay awake and aware. Satellite radio stations offer all-comedy channels, so you can easily tune in any time.

                      Pack Smart

                        It may be tempting to simply throw everything you are bringing on your trip into the trunk, but take a few extra minutes to pack correctly so items don't turn into hazards. Place the heaviest items as low as possible, in the bottom of the truck or in the seat wells. Strap down your heavier items to keep them secure while you ride.

                        Stay Off Your Phone

                        A woman texts while driving.

                        Don't pick up your phone while you are behind the wheel, even if you are at a red light. When you are operating a vehicle, you need to stay aware of your surroundings and not look at a screen. If you're using your phone for navigation purposes, put someone else in charge of holding the phone. If you need to check the GPS, pull over and get off the road first.

                          Speaking of GPS, it's not fail-safe. GPS doesn't always work, particularly in very rural areas. So make sure you've also got a detailed map of your route, just in case.

                          Stay Safe

                          Stay safe during long road trips by staying aware and being mindful of safety. When you prepare for your trip, you are much more likely to get where you are going without problems.