Loading up the car and hitting the open road ranks high on the list of summertime rituals for many of us. What better way is there to take in beautiful scenery and experience fun roadside attractions along the way? Even with gas prices slightly higher than they were last year, road travel is still an extremely popular way to reach vacation destinations. In fact, two-thirds of Americans plan to take road trip vacations between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Among those planning to travel by car, most will make multiple trips – an average of 3.5 getaways during the summer says AAA. Not surprisingly, increased road travel during the summer months leads to more car accidents on Florida’s roadways. The Florida Highway Patrol reports a significant increase in car accidents during the summer, many of which are attributed to long-distance road trips. August is the most dangerous month for car travel, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
What can you do to make your road trip a safety success? The first step is to make a plan. Lack of preparation can result in unforeseen events, like getting lost, running out of gas, or breaking down, resulting in stress and frustration. Map out your route and do some research beforehand about heavy traffic or road construction so you are not caught off guard. Before hitting the road, check your tire pressure, oil and water levels. Do not forget road trip essentials, like an emergency roadside kit, snacks, water, maps and a navigational device. If you are traveling with children, be sure to pack plenty of games to help mitigate the number of “Are We There Yet?” lamentations.
Also vital to road trip safety is to avoid driving for prolonged stretches of time. Statistics show that drivers who have been on the road for eight or more hours double their chances of having a car accident, compared to drivers who have been on the road for less than two hours. There is no reason to power through and try to reach your destination in one long trip. Break it up and take time to enjoy the sights. Stop every couple of hours to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Consider switching drivers every few hours to avoid driver fatigue.
Speaking of fatigue, make sure the driver has had plenty of rest. People who had less than five hours of sleep prior to a trip are four to five times more likely to have an automobile accident than drivers who get a full eight hours. A safe driver is the key to arriving safely.
It goes without saying that seatbelts and proper car seats for children are a necessity. Still, many drivers and passengers neglect to buckle up. Seatbelts reduce serious car accident injuries and deaths by 50 percent, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
One final tip: Enjoy the ride! A safe road trip makes great memories for years to come.
Written by Elizabeth Allen
Did your summer road trip result in an unfortunate car accident? We can help you determine if you have a case. Contact our Jacksonville lawyers who handle car accidents for a free consultation today.