Whether you want to get away for a weekend or a month, a road trip is a great way to escape from the stress of daily life and explore our great nation for yourself. Whether traveling with the family across the state to head to the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico or jumping in the car with friends to head out for a multi-week adventure across the country, you could face a tremendous amount of risk along the way. The roads are busy, particularly in big cities, and the more miles tick off on your journey, the more risk your trip could entail, particularly if your car is not properly maintained. Negligent maintenance dramatically increases the chance for a costly breakdown or worse—a serious accident. This means thorough preparation, such as proper packing and preventative maintenance is key to a safe and memorable trip. Here are five things you should check while preparing for a summer road trip.
Check Your Tires, Brakes, and Battery
You’re going to be asking a lot of your car over the next several days or weeks, so you’ll want to make sure it’s ready and able to handle the job. The first thing you should do is check your tires, oil, and battery for their condition. If your tires are worn or getting low on tread depth, consider replacing them before making the trip, especially if you’re going to add a thousand miles or more on them over the duration of the journey. Check your car’s battery voltage as well—a low-voltage battery could strand you somewhere when it’s unable to start your car. Finally, have your brakes examined for their condition. If the pads are wearing thin, you should replace them or have them replaced by a mechanic. Old brakes are a serious risk, and should they fail, you might find yourself flying out of control with no way to stop your vehicle. You could very easily be held liable if your vehicle breaks down on the road and causes an accident.
You can have all of these services done simultaneously when you bring your car to most oil change or service stations.
Change Your Oil
When it comes to your car’s ability to operate safely, perhaps no component is more critical than the condition of your engine oil. Before embarking, check the oil in your engine using the dipstick under the hood. If the dipstick is dark and covered in dirt and other contaminants, have your oil changed. Old oil will put substantial wear on your engine, increasing the risk of engine failure and potential injury from an accident.
Stock Up on Emergency Supplies
Your car may not be the only thing that experiences an emergency on the trip: you might as well. This means you’ll want to make sure you have the supplies you need should anything arise. Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid and emergency kit with you at all times, including a flashlight with fresh batteries should you run into trouble during the night. Your preparedness kit should also include non-perishable snacks that won’t go bad for quite a while, and a tire-patch kit in the event you run over a nail or something else while driving. Finally, be sure to check your spare tire or inflator kit to make sure it’s in good working condition before departing.
Bring Navigation Assistance
Even if you are a keen navigator, unfamiliar city streets and the confusing network of roadways across the country could get you lost. What’s worse: lost drivers are often not paying attention to the road in front of them, which could result in an accident. This means you should always have some form of a GPS navigation device on hand to help you find your way around should you ever find yourself confused. The good news: if you have a smart phone, you likely already have one! If you don’t, automotive navigation devices can be found for around as low as $50 to $100 these days. Just be sure you bring the appropriate car charger for whatever navigation device you use: a device with no power won’t do you any good.
All the preparation in the world won’t help you avoid an accident if you drive recklessly. Speeding, weaving in traffic, using your phone while driving, driving drunk and other dangerous behaviors are the leading causes of accidental deaths on road trips. Be sure to pay close attention to the road signs and markings to understand what’s happening, and be sure to brush up on the road laws and regulations in each state you’ll be passing through. And as always, never ever drive while intoxicated, as it’s a huge risk to both yourself and those who are on the road around you.If you have been injured in a car accident while on a road trip, call the Law Office of James M. Stanley today by dialing 817-591-4222 to arrange for a consultation and get the help you need with your case!