Safe Travels—10 Tips for Your Next Road Trip

/ By Joanna Swan

Are you planning a road trip this summer? As vacation season moves into full swing, we have 10 tips to keep you, and your most precious cargo, safe while travelling.

Car check

Schedule a routine inspection before your trip to check critical car components, including the brakes, tires, battery, ignition, wiper blades and lights. Before putting your car in drive, make sure to:

  • Adjust your climate controls and seat
  • Check your outside mirrors; adjust the view to just outside of the bodywork of your vehicle
  • Make sure all exterior lights are working properly
  • Check your tire pressure; regularly recheck to avoid flats or blowouts
  • Clean the windows; dirty windows can reduce visibility by up to 90 percent
  • Wear your seatbelt

Pack an emergency kit

Have a first-aid kit handy. Consider including road flares, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, and drinking water. Keep a phone charger in your car for 911 or roadside assistance calls.

Drive sober

Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs—driving under the influence is unsafe and illegal. Being responsible and driving sober is one of the best ways to keep the roads safe.

Stay focused

All provinces now have laws against distracted driving. Texting behind the wheel is the most common and lethal form of distracted driving, but others include eating, playing with the radio, searching for directions, and talking. Avoid multitasking while behind the wheel by:

  • Putting all electronics away
  • Getting directions ahead of time
  • Placing necessary items, such as toll and parking passes, in an easy-to-reach place

Get the right car insurance for you.

Keep your body rested

Getting enough sleep is the ideal solution for tired driving, but it’s also essential to keep energized on the road with healthy snacks like fruit and nuts, and short naps if needed. Make sure to pull off the road if you feel any warning signs of driver fatigue, including:

  • Unintentionally slowing down
  • Forgetting the last few kilometres that you drove
  • Drifting from your lane

Children, pets, and hot cars don’t mix

Never leave a child or a family pet unattended in a vehicle. Even with the windows cracked open a few inches, temperatures inside a closed car can reach dangerous levels in just a few minutes on a hot day.

  • Double-check to ensure all children and pets have left the car when reaching your destination
  • If your child or family pet is accidentally locked inside a car, get them out and dial 911 or a local emergency number immediately

Watch the weather

You can’t change the weather, but you can prepare for it by knowing what’s ahead:

  • Visit gc.ca, or download their app, for essential updates and warnings on conditions for all Canadian locations
  • Slow your speed, especially in dangerous weather conditions
  • Keep a safe following distance of 3 to 4-seconds (or longer in bad weather and at night) between you and the car in front of you, to allow enough time for you to brake to a stop if necessary

Watch out for wildlife

Avoid collisions with wildlife, especially around dusk and dawn, by:

  • Keeping your eyes on the road
  • Driving slowly, especially in unfamiliar areas
  • Keeping the vehicle under control by tapping the brakes to avoid swerving
  • Honking your horn to scare animals off your path

Avoid night driving

The dark makes it more difficult to see hazards on the road ahead, and the lack of scenery can be hypnotizing, making you even more tired. Night driving tips include:

  • Turn your headlights on one hour before sunset until one hour after sunrise to make you more visible to others
  • Use the “day/night” feature to reduce glare from your rear-view mirror
  • Avoid looking directly at oncoming headlights, looking toward the right side of the road instead
  • Keep your lights on low beams when following other vehicles
  • If you have vehicle trouble, pull off the road as far to the right as possible and set up reflector triangles near your vehicle and up to 91 metres behind it. Turn on your flashers and your dome light and call for assistance.
  • Make frequent stops to reduce fatigue and stop for a longer rest if you tired

Travelling with a pet

Travelling can be highly stressful for pets, so prepare in advance to ensure a safe and comfortable trip:

  • If you plan to cross the border, find out if documentation is required ahead of time
  • Keep your pets safe in a well-ventilated and secured crate or carrier that’s large enough for your animal to comfortably lie down, turn around, and stand in its natural position
  • On long trips, provide food, water, and regular stops for rests or get out and walk around
  • Make sure your pet has a microchip and wears a tag for easy identification; consider a travel tag for longer trips

We all look forward to our vacations—with just a little bit of pre-planning, you can help ensure that you and your family get to your destination safely.

 

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