Going on a Road Trip? Try to Avoid These 5 Mistakes Drivers Make!

A road trip here in the U.S is almost a right of passage. Being able to travel from state to state over long distances allows you freedom to explore new places and create unforgettable memories. However, a road trip can come with its own unique set of challenges that a typical car ride does not have, particularly when it comes to your safety on the road. As your Salt Lake City car accident lawyers, we understand the desire to go out and experience the world with your car, but we also understand the importance of staying safe on your journey. Before you head out on your next trip, make sure that you don’t fall victim to one of the five biggest mistakes you can make.

1. Ignoring Vehicle Maintenance:

One of the most common mistakes that a driver can make before they embark on a road trip is neglecting to look at their vehicle for any maintenance. Road trips typically cover hundreds of miles and failing to check the condition of your car can lead to a breakdown or even an accident.

How You Can Avoid This Mistake:

Avoiding mechanical failures can be a breeze as long as you check your vehicle before you leave, make sure to check:

  • Check all Fluids: Ensure that engine oil, brake fluids, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid are at their correct levels, and refill them if they are not.
  • Check Your Tires: Tires are often forgotten when you are inspecting your car, but do not forget to check them before you leave. Make sure that your tire tread is acceptable, and that all four of your tires have been properly inflated. 
  • Check for Any Problems: Take a once over of your car. Make sure that all of your headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and wipers are working properly. If you have the time, consider taking your car in for a professional check up to make sure that everything is in tip top shape. 

2. Drowsy Driving:

Loads of people drive when they are tired, especially when taking a long trip, but did you know that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving drunk? According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 17-19 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content level of 0.05%. Driving while tired can be extremely dangerous as it can severely impair your reaction time and your ability to make a split second decision.

How You Can Avoid Drowsy Driving:

Before you get behind the wheel consider taking the following steps to counteract driving while tired:

  • Get Adequate Rest: Make sure that you are able to get a good nights rest before you leave on your trip. If you have to leave early in the morning, consider going to bed earlier to make up for this loss in sleep.
  • Take Regular Breaks and Take Turns Driving: Even if it adds time to your trip, plan to stop every two hours or every 100 miles to stretch, walk around, and refresh. If you are driving with friends or family you can also use this opportunity to switch drivers to make sure that everyone is awake while they drive. 
  • Recognize the Signs of Fatigue: If your eyes feel heavy, if you start drifting out of your lane, or you are struggling to focus on the road ahead of you then pull over to a safe location and rest. Taking a short nap can help you get rejuvenated for the trip ahead of you, and can keep you from getting into an accident.

3. Speeding and Aggressive Driving:

Road trips can be draining and sometimes you might become impatient and want to get to your destination as quickly as possible and to do this you might result in some aggressive driving tactics. Speeding and aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, lane changing, and road rage can greatly increase the risk of getting into a car accident. In fact, here in Utah speeding is the number one cause of car accidents as of 2023. 

How to Avoid Aggressive Driving:

  • Observe Speed Limits: Try your best to stick to speed limits; they are there to keep you safe, not just to keep you from going as fast as you want. Always be sure to adjust your speed according to the flow of traffic as well as the road conditions to ensure that you are safe. 
  • Practice Patience: Before you start your trip acknowledge that delays and slow downs are a part of road trips. Try your best to keep your emotions in check and drive courteously to other drivers.
  • Use Cruise Control: On a highway it can be tempting to speed and go well over the speed limit. To help combat this temptation use your cruise control to set and maintain a consistent speed and reduce your desires to speed.

4. Distracted Driving:

Distracted driving kills. It is quickly becoming the leading cause of road accidents, and can result in extremely bad accidents leading to severe injuries and even death. This is why avoiding distracted driving is crucial on a road trip.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving:

  • Limit Common Distractions: The most common distractions you have on the road consist of texts, phone calls, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio or changing your music, as well as engaging with the passengers in your car. For your safety and the safety of everyone else in the car try your best to limit these distractions. Use hands free alternatives when using your phone, or having a passenger answer and reply to text messages. Pull over or stop to eat your food instead of eating it while you drive, and designate a passenger to be in charge of music and navigation.
  • Plan Ahead: Try and finish any menial or small tasks that could take your eyes off the road before you start driving. Before you start driving, set your GPS to your destination, adjust your mirrors, and select your music or podcast to avoid any distractions later on the drive.
  • Stay Focused: Driving for long periods of time can be difficult, and maintaining your focus can be just as difficult. If you are struggling to stay focused pull off into a safe location and take a break, or switch driving with another passenger in the car.

5. Underestimating Weather Conditions:

Weather can change rapidly, especially when you are traveling across different regions. It can be easy to underestimate the impact that rain, snow, fog, or high winds can have on your drive, but these weather conditions can lead to serious dangers especially if you are not prepared. 

How to Be Prepared For Weather Conditions:

  • Check the Forecast: Before you leave, check the weather along your route at major cities and towns to be prepared for any weather that you may encounter. 
  • Drive Appropriately: If you are driving in rain or snow make sure that you drive to match the weather conditions, this typically means slowing down to adjust for changes in stopping time or a decrease in visibility.
  • Have Emergency Supplies Available: In the case of serious weather it is best to be prepared. Stock your car with blankets, extra food and water, a flashlight, as well as a first aid kit in case of an emergency. Being well prepared can help keep you safe in case of an emergency.
  • Know When to Stop: If the weather becomes too severe, or you feel unsafe continuing to drive, find a safe place to pull over and wait until the driving conditions improve.

Going on a road trip should be a fun and enjoyable way to experience the country, and you should not have to be afraid that you might make a catastrophic error. But by being aware of these common mistakes you can now take proactive steps to avoid them and significantly enhance the safety of you and your passengers. Remember, a road trip is not only successful when you reach your destination but it is also successful by enjoying the trip safely. If something does go wrong and you are injured in a car accident make sure to contact the Salt Lake City car accident lawyers at LifeLaw Personal Injury. Our team of Utah car accident lawyers will make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve and will fight for your case every step of the way. If you have been injured, call us today for a free consultation and to discuss your options.