Few things are as synonymous with summer in Canada as a road trip. With city and country close by, Kitchener-Waterloo is in a prime position for road trips. With all the details to plan on everything from destination to snacks, road trip safety can get lost in the excitement.
Being safe on a summer road trip, however, can reduce risk of personal injury for yourself and your fellow travellers. Safety can keep your road trip a fun experience and ensure your lasting memories are entirely positive.
Here are some safety tips to consider on your next great Canadian road trip.
Get your gear
It’s critical to be prepared for the unimaginable worst-case scenario. One of the ways to do this is to have proper gear (emergency equipment) handy in the car. Everyone’s emergency kit may look different but some often included items are jumper cables, a flashlight and water. Check out this handy list from the Government of Canada with some recommended items.
Get some sleep
Distracted driving is a huge topic of conversation; driving while tired, however, can be a dangerous activity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the majority of adult drivers admit to having driven a vehicle while tired and more than one-third have fallen asleep at the wheel. Tiredness impairs a number of senses that are critical to safe driving, including reaction time, judgment, vision, memory and motivation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving kills hundreds of people every year.
To avoid this, sleep must occur in both quality and quantity. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers these insights on healthy sleep. Some of their tips to get a good night sleep include avoiding caffeine and nicotine, not napping after 3 p.m., and sticking to a set sleep schedule.
Avoid eating while driving
Leave the snacks for the passengers. There are lots of reasons for this. If caught in the act, the RCMP can fine Canadians who eat and drive up to $400. This is a part of a broader crack down on distracted driving, a growing area of conversation.
More important than a fine, however, is the potential safety risks caused by eating at the wheel. Both hands should on the wheel. This maximizes control of the vehicle and also ability to respond. Eating should be done at rest stops only.
Be ready for sun
Be sun ready for you, your friends and family this summer. Carry extra sun screen in the vehicle. If you burn quickly, it’s even more imperative to be equipped for sunny days. Sunglasses can help. When shopping for sunglasses, it’s easy to get distracted by style but look for sunglasses that provide maximum coverage. Sunglasses should be built to last.
Hats can provide necessary relief from sun damage. Baseball caps are good for protecting your face but can leave the ears exposed.
There are other investments you can make to increase sun safety while driving. Sunshades are available at many stores. Under no circumstance should children or animals be left in the car alone
Up your GPS game
A good GPS can help you to avoid getting lost, reach your destination faster and access help in emergencies. Phones can die, lose reception or go haywire but a good GPS is built to last. Consumer Reports offers this helpful GPS Buying Guide for those buying a new system.
Never embark on a summer road trip without a functioning GPS in your car. Make sure to test and familiarize yourself with the GPS, including any manuals, ahead of time.
Cut the chatter
For drivers, road trip car conversation can be a dangerous distraction. Whether it’s texting, answering the phone or chatting with passengers in the vehicle, your activity could be considered distracted driving. Not only could this earn you a hefty fine and demerit points but it could endanger the life of everyone in the vehicle. According to CAA, talking on a cell phone while driving increases the risk of a collision by 4 times. For texting, it’s 8 times.
You need to keep your focus on the road to ensure optimal response time, information processing and vision.
With these tips in mind – having an emergency kit, getting enough sleep, not eating while driving, being sun ready, having a GPS handy and cutting down on chatter – your road trip stands a good chance of being safe and fun for everyone.
If you’ve experienced a personal injury on a summer road trip, and want to know if you have a claim, let's chat.