Hitting the road for a trip across the state -- or the country -- is a fun way to travel. Unfortunately, it can also be hazardous, putting drivers and passengers at risk of death or injury from accidents. Cars can also break down on road trips, leading to dangerous situations.
But with proper planning and careful observation of safety rules, road trippers can stay safe on the road and get to their destination and back without incident. Need help planning your safe road trip? Follow these tips, advice articles, and safe trip planning tools to get started.
Top 9 Tips for a Safe Road Trip
These can't miss tips are the most important pieces of advice for safely planning your next road trip.
- Get a diagnostic check: Make sure your vehicle is up to date on oil changes, tire rotations, and scheduled maintenance. Check the air in the tires, take a look at belts and hoses, measure fluid levels, check that lights are working, and replace wiper blades if needed.
- Check emergency supplies: Make sure your spare tire is fully inflated, and that your car jack is intact. Check on your emergency kit verifying that it has new bottled water, first aid supplies, blankets, flashlights, and other essentials.
- Pack a map: Even if you're planning to rely on your phone or GPS, it's smart to keep a paper map in your car just in case you drive into an area where you can't get service.
- Check your car seats: If you're traveling with children that require car seats or booster seats, make sure you're using them properly. Before your trip, double check installation and size requirements.
- Get a good night's sleep: Rest up before you hit the road to improve safety. You'll be more alert and avoid the dangers of drowsy driving. If you get drowsy while driving, pull over to rest and be sure to switch drivers as needed.
- Check weather and traffic before you leave: It's a good idea to plan ahead and know what you'll be experiencing before you hit the road. Dangerous flooding, winter storms, and serious traffic delays can interfere with your safe travels, but if you know about them, you may be able to avoid them.
- Don't let your tank get too low: Especially in unfamiliar territory, you should never let your gas get lower than 1/4 of the tank just in case you get stuck in traffic, have bad weather, or need to deal with anything else on the road. If possible, plan your gas stops ahead of time so you can avoid long stretches without a gas station when you need to fill up.
- Keep your phone charged: In case of an emergency, you'll need to keep your cell phone and charger with you and ready to use.
- Tell someone where you're going: Leave a detailed itinerary with a trusted friend or family member, and make plans to check in with them regularly so they know if you've reached your destination. If you don't check in, they'll know to call for help.
Road Trip Safety Guides
Need more information? These guides offer in depth tips, resources, and more for safety on road trips. Many of them are specialized for certain types of travelers such as families, solo drivers, and pet owners.
- Red Cross: Highway Safety Hitting the Road: Check out the Red Cross guide to highway safety including steps you can take on the road and ways to prepare for the unexpected.
- Parents: 7 Safety Tips for Your Next Road Trip: Traveling with children? Make sure everyone is safe by using these tips.
- Mental Floss: 6 Road Trip Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life: Mental Floss shares these potentially life saving tips for making your road trip safer and more comfortable.
- Allstate: The Right Way to Road Trip: Allstate's infographic explains all of the elements of a great road trip, from smart packing to vehicle prep, and how to avoid accidents and deal with bad weather.
- Solo Traveler: A Road Trip Alone: Be Prepared with These 10 Tips: Heading out on the road by yourself? These tips are especially helpful for solo travelers.
- Edmunds: How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids: Take a safe and stress free family car vacation with tips from Edmunds.
- Everything You Need to Prepare for a Long Car Journey or Road Trip: Find lots of tools and cool tricks for getting prepared for a long road trip.
- Baby Center: Road Trip Survival Guide: Baby Center's guide offers kid friendly tips for road trips, encouraging parents to check car seats, emergency supplies, and more.
- SaferCar.gov: Summer Driving Tips: SaferCar.gov's resource offers tips for planning, safety on the road, and what to do in an emergency.
- AAA: What to Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down: What happens if you break down on the side of the road? AAA explains your next steps for safety.
- Solo Journey: Tips for Women Traveling Alone: Women on solo road trips can heed this advice to stay safe on the road.
- The Constant Rambler: Road Trip Planning: Car Care for a Safe Trip: With this guide, you'll learn all of the important pre trip maintenance tasks you should take on to make sure your car is safe enough for travel.
- Independent Traveler: 9 Ways to Keep Your Car Safe: This article explains how you can avoid theft while you're on a road trip.
- AARP: Five Summer Road Trip Safety Tips: Elderly and young drivers alike can stay smart and safe on the road with AARP's safety tips.
- ASPCA: Travel Safety Tips: Bringing a furry friend along on your road trip? The ASPCA explains how you can safely travel by car with your cat or dog.
Road Trip Safety Apps and Tools
Put your safe planning into action with weather directions maps, roadside assistance, gas prices, and more tools for safe road trips.
- AAA Mobile: Get help from AAA on the go with this app. You'll be able to plan your trip ahead of time, create and share an itinerary, and find resources like repair facilities and cheap gas prices. AAA members can even request roadside assistance from the app.
- Allstate Motor Club: Even if you're not a member of the Allstate Motor Club, you can get help with this app's diagnostics guide. You can identify your need by selecting from a menu of options. Club members can get GPS help and detailed dispatch information from the app as well.
- Weather Underground Map: Get directions and weather together with Weather Underground, and you'll see weather considerations you should keep in mind for your upcoming road trip.
- GasBuddy: How far is it to the next cheap gas station? Find out using the GasBuddy app and plan your next gas stop easily.
- My Trip Calculator: Plan ahead for fuel costs using FuelEconomy.gov's trip calculator.
- SeatCheck.org: Need help with your child's car seat? Find an inspection location on SeatCheck.org.