Whether you are taking a road trip, heading out-of-state on business, or moving across the county, driving a long distance requires careful thought and planning beforehand. Amidst all the preparation it can be easy to forget about road safety, but taking extra precautions when driving a long distance is vital to the safety of you and your passengers.
In light of the new year, a time when many people are planning future vacations and making big life changes, we would like to share some road safety tips from our Florida accident law firm to help you better enjoy driving long distances in 2020.
There are many things you should do before leaving on your trip. First, ensure your vehicle is in good enough shape for long-distance travel. Have your car inspected by a mechanic if it has been awhile since your last service. Next, check how the weather will be at your destination and pack accordingly. While packing, place anything of value in your trunk and make sure all your electronics are working and fully charged. Finally, leave much sooner than you intend to. You never know how traffic conditions will fluctuate once you get on the road.
Always get a good night’s sleep before driving. According to the National Safety Council, people are three times more likely to crash if they are sleepy behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that annually about 100,000 crashes involve driving while drowsy, 1,550 of which result in fatalities.
Drunk driving is a more obvious offense, but warnings against it bear repeating. Every year, drunk driving kills 29 people in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report. Never get behind the wheel if you feel even slightly tipsy.
Drive defensively. Just because you are sober and rested doesn’t mean other drivers will be. Be vigilant and take extra precautions while driving. This means eliminating any potential distractions, such as your cell phone. Ask your passengers to navigate and control the music so you never have to take your eyes off the road. If you’re driving solo, make calls, plan your route, and get plenty of sleep and nourishment before getting behind the wheel.
This is especially the case when you are driving somewhere with severe weather, or to an area you are unfamiliar with. For example, many parts of the U.S. are much colder than Florida in the winter, which can lead to icy roads and other hazardous conditions. If you’re driving to a place with heavy snow, drive much slower than usual and increase your following distance around other vehicles. The same goes if you are driving on mountainous or other treacherous roads. Like Florida, many states have very long bridges or stretches of highway without gas stations, so always make sure you have enough fuel in your tank.
Taking a break about every two hours is highly recommended when driving long distances. Use your breaks as an excuse to go to the bathroom, stretch your legs, or eat. Driving on an open, empty stretch of road can be especially monotonous and cause you to lose concentration, so make sure you keep yourself engaged, either by talking with your passengers, listening to an interesting audiobook, or doing another simple activity that won’t take your eyes away from the road. Also, if you are traveling with companions, share the driving with someone else if you can.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident while traveling, The Pittman Firm, P.A. can help. Our founding attorney has been handling personal injury cases for over 30 years throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States.