Safety Tips for Your Next Road Trip

December 15, 2023

We have investigated a significant number of car accidents in our time helping injured Floridians. While most of these accidents are the result of the other driver’s negligence, we have come to recognize steps that all drivers can take to stay safe. You may not be able to control what other drivers do, but you can take steps to protect yourself and minimize your chances of being involved in an accident. And if you are injured in a car accident, a skilled car accident lawyer can help you navigate the claim process.  

Stay on Top of Your Maintenance

Mechanical failures can not only cut your road trip short, but they can also result in a serious car accident. Before heading out on the road, you should take your car in to get any necessary repairs done. You should also make sure that your headlights and tail lights are working, replace worn tires, and replace any torn or damaged windshield wipers. 

Watch Your Speed

Speeding is one of the most common causes of car accidents and yet does not get the same attention as distracted driving or driving while under the influence. This includes the following: 

  • Driving in excess of posted speed limits including reduced speeds on turns. Certain roads, turns, and other features become unsafe at excessive speeds. Speed limits are often determined by traffic engineers to account for factors such as visibility and traffic volume. 
  • Driving too fast for traffic conditions. You need to check your speed in heavy or stop-and-go traffic. This may mean driving under the posted speed limit. Driving too fast in heavy traffic means that you may not be able to avoid an accident when traffic suddenly stops or someone makes a sudden lane change
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions. While snow and ice are extremely rare in the Boca Raton area, you do need to account for weather conditions such as heavy rain, wind, and fog. Similar to traffic conditions, driving safely may mean driving under the posted speed limit when weather conditions may make it difficult to see or control your vehicle. 

On a road trip, it’s easy to “just want to get there.” Control your speed and you will greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a car accident. 

Increase Your Distance

Rear-end accidents are among the most common types of car accidents. They occur when one vehicle follows another too closely and cannot avoid a collision when the car in front has to suddenly stop or dramatically reduce its speed. Many rear-end accidents cause “chain reaction” accidents that involve several vehicles because all of them were following too closely.  The best way you can avoid rear-end accidents is by increasing the distance between you and the car in front of you. That said, you should also be mindful of your distance from vehicles in adjacent lanes – avoid remaining in other drivers’ blind spots, especially when it comes to large trucks. The more distance you put between yourself and other vehicles, the better you will be able to avoid getting into an accident. 

Take Breaks and Get Off the Road When Tired

Road trips often mean spending long hours behind the wheel. Unfortunately, many drivers do not recognize or understand how fatigue can impact their ability to drive safely. Even if you are not falling asleep at the wheel, fatigue can impact your driving in the following ways: 

  • Slowed reflexes and reaction time. A second or two can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding a car accident. 
  • Poor judgment. Being tired can make it more difficult to assess potential hazards and make quick decisions. 
  • Inattentiveness. Fatigued drivers have a harder time paying attention to the road and can, therefore, fail to notice potential hazards. 

Taking period breaks to get out of the car, stretch, and maybe get a cup of coffee can help re-energize you. However, you should stop driving for the day as soon as you begin feeling drowsy. 

Avoid Driving Late at Night

Long-distance road trips often mean driving late into the night, but many drivers fail to consider the risks of doing so. This is closely related to driving while fatigued or drowsy but deserves specific consideration. Obviously, driving late at night can make it more difficult to stay awake. However, you are also more likely to encounter other drivers who are falling asleep as well as drivers who are intoxicated. Try to limit your driving to daylight hours or at least avoid driving late at night or very early in the morning. 

Minimize Distractions

Distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of car accidents in Florida and across the country. While most people immediately think of cell phones, distractions can come in many forms, especially on road trips. Distractions can fall into the following categories: 

  • Visual distractions – anything that requires you to take your eyes off the road
  • Manual distractions – anything that requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel or otherwise be unable to safely operate the vehicle
  • Cognitive distractions – anything that prevents you from paying full attention to driving

Some distractions, such as smartphones, can include all three types of distractions. However, there are many distractions that can arise during a road trip, especially if you are traveling with your family: 

  • Eating while driving
  • Reaching to the floor or into the back seat
  • Conversing with passengers
  • Daydreaming
  • Dealing with restless children or pets
  • Adjusting the radio or other dashboard controls

Ultimately, you should either take a break or finish driving for the day if you feel that you are unable to pay full attention. 

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact The Grife Law Firm Today

If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Grife Law Firm, however, it’s not just about the money – it’s about helping you rebuild your life. To discuss your case and your options, contact us today at 561-998-0770 to schedule a free consultation.