As winter fades and warm weather nears, people begin thinking those two little words of freedom: road trip! With school breaks on the horizon, college students to large families are making plans for vacation. A recent survey by AOL travel shows that over 80% of spring travelers this year will travel 250+ miles from home, and 58% will travel more than 500 miles. And the majority will reach their destination by car. With so many people hitting the road soon, it’s important that you and your family take some steps to ensure that you stay healthy and safe during your vacation.
The most obvious step in planning a safe road trip is to prepare your vehicle for travel. The best step is to get a tune-up for your car -- inspect for mechanical issues, replenish all fluids, and check the condition of tires and brakes. Make certain your insurance, tags and inspections are up-to-date. Include in your car some safety essentials in the event of an accident or break-down, such as flares or reflective signs, jumper cables, spare tire and jack. Also, ask your auto insurance company if they offer roadside assistance. Many do for a reasonable fee, and can provide travel assistance like towing, tire changes, or gas fill-ups.
Insurance is another important issue for travelers. Make certain your car insurance coverage is adequate for your potential needs. Carrying the minimum-required insurance may not fully cover you during a major accident. Additionally, make sure your coverage includes appropriate medical coverage in the event an injury occurs during a car accident. This is especially important for an individual without health care coverage or whose coverage does not extend to the travel area. If you do not wish to commit to long-term insurance for a short-term trip, consider travel insurance. Travel insurance can potentially cover costs associated with travel delays or cancellation, emergency medical care, and even accidental death and dismemberment.
Though spontaneity is a fun part of a road trip, some planning is important for safety. Plan your trip to avoid unsafe areas, major construction and high traffic areas during rush hours. Plot your course on a map or GPS ahead of time, as fumbling for a map results in distracted and dangerous driving. Always inform someone not traveling with you of your plans. Travel with a cell phone, but don’t trust that a signal will be available to you in the event of an emergency. By letting someone know where you will be, advising them of route changes and checking in regularly may avert disaster. In 2006, CNET editor James Kim succumbed to hypothermia while seeking help for his family. While on a road trip, the family had become stranded for seven days in freezing temperatures after taking an unfamiliar route to their vacation destination. As in many mountainous areas, no cell service was available to them. In any season, travelers can’t predict the consequences of being stranded in an unfamiliar area. Travel often means experiencing very different weather and terrain changes than you are used to. So in addition to communicating your plans, consider keeping spare water, energy bars, a first aid kit, and blankets on hand.
Finally, in the event an accident or injury does happen while traveling, you are not without recourse. When injured in an unfamiliar place, far from home, it can be daunting to determine your rights and receive the assistance you deserve. If you have been injured while traveling, contact a Illinois personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.