Dana Adkins, Esq.
The New Rules of the Road: 8 Smart Tips to Stay Safe on Your Next Road Trip
The much anticipated travel season is upon us. Spring break bookings are soaring. In fact, travel bookings have increased 134% from last year. When mixing increased travelers with an industry that’s still healing from two years of setbacks, there are bound to be a handful of obstacles along the way. To avoid the highway to hell, here are 8 smart tips to have a safe, fun, and seamless road trip.
Don’t drink and drive. Also, keep in mind, after a night of heavy drinking, you may not be 100% the next morning. According to AAA , if you were to drink from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at a rate of about 2 drinks per hour, you could still have a BAC of 0.08 at 7:30 a.m. – and that number might not go down to zero until 1 p.m.
Don’t drive tired. Take turns behind the wheel. Rotating drivers keeps everyone refreshed and focused on the task at hand. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in property damage. The more sleep deprived you are, the more dangerous it is. In fact one study found that staying awake for 24 hours is the equivalent of driving impaired with a .10 blood alcohol level, which is illegal.
Watch out for pedestrians. Warm weather can bring crowds of pedestrians together with drivers in areas that are new and unfamiliar to both of them.
Some times it’s worth renting a vehicle rather than being stranded roadside in your Pinto. Check out this recent poll on Reddit about the worst cars driven for a road trip. If you’re renting a car, make sure you have insurance for everyone who might be driving on your road trip.
Remember traffic laws and etiquette may change as you cross state lines. For example, in some states, using the right lane (aka “the slow lane”) to pass vehicles is not only looked down upon – it may actually be illegal. Also, turning right on a red light may be legal in states such as South Carolina, but in the U.S., that’s the exception, not the rule.
Spontaneity makes some of the most memorable experiences. But, before you dash off on your road trip, do any needed maintenance on your vehicle. Tires keep your car on the road, or in some cases are the reason your car left the road. Check your tires for damage before you head out. Look for gouges, rips, and nails that could cause havoc on the road. Also, check your tire tread depth. One easy way is the old-fashioned penny test. Place a penny into your tire's tread groove with Abe’s head upside down and facing you. If you see all of Lincoln's head, your tread depth is too thin and it's time to replace your tires.
Don’t put your feet on the dashboard. Were you raised in a barn? Keep your feet on the floor. It’s good manners. More importantly, it’s a lot safer. In the event of a collision, an airbag can deploy at up to 220 miles per hour and deliver a force of more than 880 pounds to a front-seat passenger. Feet on the dash can result in knees being slammed into the chest or face. It happened to this poor girl. During a collision while her feet were on the dash, her hip was completely dislocated, her knees broke her cheekbone, left eye socket, and nose, dislocated her jaw, broke both her feet, and tragically, she suffered brain damage.
Having patience is always a good idea when traveling, but pack an extra dose this travel season. The travel industry is still very much recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic. Remember to be as understanding as you can, as times have changed.