How to Keep Safe on the Road

By Kisha Lester

Over the river and through the woods, to… (Grandma’s! The beach! The campsite!) …we go! Wherever you’re heading this summer on your family road trips, make sure your precious passengers arrive at their destination safely by taking some precautions to ensure your family stays safe while traveling.

Before You Go

  • Get your vehicle maintenance before you set out on the road. There’s nothing worse than a car breaking down to delay or limit your family fun. Make sure you are prepared for any unexpected events like a flat tire or bad weather.
  • Check your tires. Inspect your tires’ air pressure, tread wear and don’t forget to look at your spare too!
  • Keep your wiper blades fresh. Windshield wipers get ragged from use. If your wipers are streaking or hazing when it rains, replace them.
  • Carefully check your coolant level to make sure it’s adequate. It may be time to have your cooling system flushed and refilled so your engine doesn’t overheat.
  • Top off your fluid levels. Check your oil, brake, transmission, power steering and windshield washer fluids. Also, if you see any sign of fluid leakage, get your vehicle serviced.
  • Make sure all your lights are in working order. That’s your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, interior lights, and trailer lights.
  • Keep it cool. Make sure your air conditioning is properly working and flowing with cool air. Hot and sweaty kids and parents with a long road ahead are not safe or fun.
  • Have an emergency roadside kit. Make sure you have a roadside assistant service on speed dial and keep these items handy:
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight
    • Flares and a white flag
    • Jumper cables
    • Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
    • Basic repair tools and duct tape

On the Road

  • Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed. All children 12 and younger should ride in the back seat.
  • Everybody aboard must wear their seat belts every time and the whole trip.
  • Never leave your child unattended in or around your vehicle.
  • Make sure to lock vehicle doors at all times when not in use. Children may enter vehicles on their own because the vehicle was unlocked or the keys were left out and accessible.
  • Remember that long trips can be especially tough on children. Stopping along the way makes the trip easier and less tiring for them as well—and more of an adventure, too.
  • Plenty of distractions both inside and outside your vehicle can take your attention from the road. Do not text or engage in any other activities that may distract you while driving.
  • Road trips can be tough on parents too! The best way to stay focused while driving is to avoid fatigue. Take time to stop to stretch your legs, switch drivers or even spend the night at a hotel to stay alert behind the wheel.
  • Bring along a few favorite books or soft toys to keep the kids occupied. The trip will seem to go faster for them, perhaps lessen the number of times they ask, “Are we there yet?”

Looking for kid-friendly snacks for your family road trip? We can help! 

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Kisha DeSandies Lester is the senior editorial and digital manager at National PTA.

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