Fall is coming, and anyone who’s ever taken a road trip during the crisp, autumn season knows just how incredible the sights, sounds, and smells can be. And while driving during the fall isn’t typically as dangerous as driving during winter conditions, it’s important to stay safe on the road, whether you’re traveling with your family, your friends, or you’re taking a solo trip. About 3 million people are injured every year in car accidents on U.S. roads, and with that in mind, here are just a few important safety tips to remember for your upcoming fall road trip.
Have a (Loosely Structured) Itinerary
There’s obviously no need to structure each and every minute of your road trip — that would be way too stressful, and much less spontaneous. Instead, make a tentative itinerary that includes the two most important road trip factors: where you can sleep, and where you can get gas. The global specialty gases market is forecast to surpass $14 billion by 2026, and if your vehicle uses diesel or any other alternative to regular gasoline, you’ll need some pre-planning. Aside from those two factors, you have free reign over your adventure. But keep in mind that it’s also a good idea to leave a copy of your loose itinerary with a trusted friend or family member, since you may experience spotty cell phone reception in some areas.
Get the Right Supplies
There are approximately 6 million car accidents in the U.S. each year, and many occur as a result of distracted driving — which also includes driving when you’re overtired. In case you haven’t yet reached your stop for the night and you’re still in need of a quick rest, it’s helpful to invest in some window coverings to darken your vehicle and help you get your slumber. About 54% of Americans over age 18 drink coffee every day, and while it’s great for a temporary energy boost, it can never replace high-quality sleep.
“Consider investing in some window coverings. They make it easier to nap without being seen as you drool onto the steering wheel, and keep curious strangers from knowing you’re in there alone. Windshield sunshades will also keep you cool on hotter days. For side windows, try pull-down screens. Using screens is also a good precaution to take if you’re leaving your car and have any valuables that can’t be stowed in the trunk,” writes Crystal Paul on The Seattle Times.
Know Your Vehicle
Finally, it’s a great idea to take a look at your vehicle and learn some basic maintenance. You don’t have to become a professional mechanic overnight, but learning how to change a tire and refill the fluids can be an absolute lifesaver if you’re ever in a serious bind and can’t get to a professional. If you’re borrowing a friend’s car or using a rental, you’ll want to take the time to learn about its basic functions as well. If you can get a professional tune-up before you depart for your trip, even better. Whatever the case, it’s up to you to take the time to minimize your chances of running into mechanical problems while on the road.
So there you have it — some basic road trip safety tips for fall. Now, you can take to the open roads with confidence and explore to your heart’s desire!