There’s no type of travel that’s quite as good for making family memories as a road trip.
And with summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to start planning your family’s next adventure!
But road trips can come with dangers, as well. And keeping those in mind can help ensure your trip is one that’s both safe and enjoyable.
If you’re planning a family road trip this summer, keep this list of potential car issues and safety tips in mind:
Why Plan a Road Trip
With travel restrictions finally removed after Covid, families have been itching to get out and see the world.
In fact, there’s an estimated 113 million people expected to take vacations in 2023, representing a 14% increase in air travel alone.
Considering this increase in demand, airfare prices are expected to increase as well, which is why taking a road trip has become a popular vacation choice for many.
Potential Car Problems On a Road Trip
A long trip in your vehicle can make the chance of a car issue more likely, so it’s important to know about some of the more common mechanical problems you might encounter:
To avoid a car accident while your family is present, consider these potential car problems and how to prevent them before you leave:
- The car battery dies on you
It can be easy to forget about the importance of maintaining your car’s battery until it suddenly stops working.
Keep in mind that most car batteries need to be replaced within a five-to-seven-year time window depending on the type of car you own.
If your vehicle battery is within this range, or if you’ve noticed your vehicle is harder to start than it was previously, replacing the battery before you take your trip is likely a good idea.
- You suddenly get a flat tire
Anytime you drive for an extended period of time, you risk coming across a road hazard that could result in a flat tire, especially if your tires already have some wear and tear.
In general, you should rotate your tires every 5,000-7,000 miles, and aim to get new tires every five years.
If your tires are older, consider replacing them before heading out on your trip.
- Your vehicle suffers total engine failure
The last thing any driver wants is for their entire engine to give out on them while they are on their road trip.
However, this tends to happen on road trips more often due to the fact that the vehicle is being put through a greater amount of stress than normal.
If possible, avoid towing large amounts through mountainous regions or placing too great a strain on an older vehicle.
- You run out of gas while driving
Running out of gas while driving may seem difficult to do, but when on a road trip, in an area you are unfamiliar with, it is more common than you may initially think.
For example, a driver may assume that the area will have a gas station within the next 50 miles, but there may not be one for 100 miles. Always make sure you have adequate gas before you hit the road.
- The brakes fail
Finally, one of the least common but perhaps most dangerous breakdowns that may occur out on the open road is losing power to the brakes.
When this occurs, you will lost control of the braking ability of your vehicle to a certain degree or potentially completely.
The most important thing to do when your brakes give out is to avoid panicking and carefully try engaging the emergency brake.
If this does not work, attempt to downshift to a lower gear and slow down naturally. In a worst-case scenario, look for crash jugs in the roadway which will reduce the force of an impending impact.
Preparing and Driving on Your Road Trip
Road trip safety is about more than just understanding what could go wrong with your vehicle when driving. Drivers also need to know how to react to help avoid accidents as well.
Below are a few common tips that could help you avoid an accident:
- Handle preventative maintenance before you leave, including normal routine tune-ups, tire rotations, topping off fluids, etc.
- Scan the road at least 12 seconds in front of your vehicle to give yourself ample reaction time in the event there is a road hazard or something similar
- Leave three seconds of following space between you and other vehicles to give yourself time to brake in the event the driver in front of you suddenly stops
- If possible, avoid driving in areas with weather conditions you are unfamiliar with, as this may cause you to panic on the road or react in a way that causes an accident
- Never extend your road trip into the night if you’re tired, as driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence
Ensuring you and your family stay safe on the road is something that requires constant attention, and that’s especially true on a long road trip.
To minimize potential dangers, make sure to double-check that your vehicle is ready for a longer drive, and, if possible, have it looked over by a mechanic before you leave.
With proper preparation and defensive driving techniques, a road trip with kids can be a great way to make memories that will last for a lifetime.