5 ways to make your road trip safer

Taking a few simple steps helps drivers in Pennsylvania remain safe while on the road.

Whether you are driving across the state of Pennsylvania or across the country, there are several ways you can make the journey safer. The unfortunately truth is that car accidents happen entirely too often, and they are often preventable. Before getting behind the wheel, take these simple steps:

1. Get sleep

One of the biggest issues facing people who are driving for an extended period of time is exhaustion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 72,000 car accidents in 2013 were a result of drowsy driving.

Getting enough sleep leading up to the trip is tantamount. Experts advise sleeping between seven and nine hours a night. Additionally, anyone who feels tired should avoid driving. Drinking coffee and rolling down the windows are temporary fixes. The best solution is getting rest.

2. Avoid distractions

Even more dangerous that driving while tired is driving distracted. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people lost their lives due to the behavior in 2015. Cellphone use is one of the most common distractions, but eating, changing the radio station and interacting with passengers also take a driver's focus off the road.

There are laws that make certain behaviors illegal. For example, in Pennsylvania, no driver is permitted to text while driving. Many states have enacted such laws, and drivers should know what those laws are before hitting the road.

3. Get a tune up

Cars are best-suited for long trips when they have had all the basic maintenance: an oil change, tires checked and fluids topped off. Drivers should swing by the mechanic to make sure everything is up to speed. Doing so could prevent an untimely breakdown.

4. Plan ahead

Inclement weather could make roads dangerous, even unusable. No matter what time of year it is, drivers should look at the weather forecast along their planned trip. It is wise to avoid traveling during a time when heavy precipitation is expected. At the very least, people should research areas where they can safely pull over and wait out any storm that may arise.

5. Have an emergency kit

Lastly, every vehicle should have an emergency kit. This is useful in the event of an accident, breakdown or other unexpected event. The kit should include the following:

  • Bottled water and non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing and blankets
  • Jumper cables and flashlight
  • A first aid kit
  • Basic tools
  • Supplies for a pet or children in the vehicle

A kit should also have extra batteries and seasonal tools, such as an ice scraper.

While accidents may still occur, taking these measures helps reduce the risk of one. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania.