While it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of summertime road trips, long weekends can be dangerous on the roads. CBC News reports that in Alberta alone, there have been 75 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries on the province’s roads since the Victoria Day holiday.
The news agency also cites statistics that support the long-held belief that long weekends are more dangerous than regular weekends during the summer. While alcohol is associated with higher fatality rates during the warm-weather months, failing to wear a seat belt is actually a more common cause of accident-related injuries and deaths.
There are many simple, practical things you can do to greatly reduce your chances of becoming an accident statistic. If you’re planning a lengthy road trip, brush up on your long-distance driving safety before you hit the road. Also, be sure to avoid dangerous practices like distracted driving, fatigued driving and under-preparedness for emergency situations.
Stay Safe during a Long Drive
Long-distance road trips can be great fun, but safety is even more important when you’re going to be travelling a long way from home. Before you hit the road, be sure your vehicle is up for the trip. Have it checked out by a mechanic, particularly if it’s older or has high mileage. Also, top up your fluids, change the oil, check the tire pressure, and be sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit.
Since you’re in for a long drive, there’s no point in hurrying to your destination. Avoid speeding, allow generous following distances, and take frequent breaks. It’s also a good idea to share the driving responsibilities with others if possible.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Distracted driving is proving to be deadly, with various North American news agencies reporting that it has officially surpassed impaired driving as a leading cause of traffic injuries and fatalities. Avoid the following dangerous behaviours when you’re behind the wheel:
- Talking, texting or surfing the Internet on a cell phone; pull over if you absolutely must use your phone
- Listening to overly loud music; keep the volume moderated
- Grooming yourself while behind the wheel
- Programming or otherwise engaging with a GPS device; make sure it’s programmed before you leave
- Eating or drinking while driving; while these activities may be legal, they can still distract your attention
Distracted driving fines have recently been increased in many parts of Canada – including Alberta – but the financial cost of distracted driving pales in comparison to its other dangers. Avoid it at all costs.
Fatigue Can Be Deadly
Driver fatigue is another problem you should be aware of, especially if you’re making a long trip. Fatigue can be particularly problematic in rural areas, and on long, straight stretches of highway. Some tips to help avoid it include:
- Getting a good night’s sleep the day before your road trip
- Eating healthy foods before embarking on your journey
- Keeping your eyes active and moving by scanning the roadway
A strong cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage may help in a pinch, but if you’re still feeling tired, pull off the road altogether or let someone else take a turn behind the wheel.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Sometimes, things are beyond your control, and to ensure you’re equal to any challenge you might encounter, you need to be ready for anything. First, review the proper steps for documenting the facts of an accident; this will be of great help if you need to file a car insurance claim or deal with litigation.
Next, be sure to have a well-stocked emergency kit in your car at all times. While you should always keep one on hand, it is particularly important if your travels are taking you into remote areas where help may not be readily available, or if you’re going a long way from home. They can literally save your life, so be sure to think ahead and incorporate one into your plans.
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