After a winter cooped up inside, waiting for blue skies and warmer days, once spring break arrives we’re all ready to hit the open road in search of freedom, fun, and sun. Families pack up their cars with games and snacks, college students grab their best friends and their playlists, and everyone hits the open road. Whether you’re taking a road trip with the kids or with your best buddies from the University of Chicago, Northwestern, or any Illinois college or university, here are some tips for making sure your out-of-town adventure is a safe one.
Before Your Spring Break Road Trip
It’s tempting to just jump in the car and go, but taking the time for a few simple precautions can make all the difference on your drive:
1) Make sure your car is ready for the long haul
▪ Have your oil changed.
▪ Top off your windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze.
▪ Check the air pressure in your tires with a gauge: tire pressure can be low even when the tires look full. Low pressure decreases your gas mileage and could cause a blowout.
2) Plan your route
▪ Take a look at the major roads you’ll be traveling on your spring break trip. Major highways often have construction, whether you’re on I-55S headed to Texas, I-57S to New Orleans, or I-65S to Florida, so build in extra time if you’ll be using these.
▪ Plan the number of hours on the road each day, including rest stops and refueling. Build in time for some sightseeing, too! Figure out where you’ll spend each night on the road and book your hotel rooms before you leave.
▪ If you’re driving to your destination in one long stretch, make a plan with your passengers—the ones who can drive, that is—for sharing the job. No one should drive when they’re feeling sleepy.
3) Take precautions against COVID-19
▪ The risk of COVID-19 infection may have decreased, but it hasn’t gone away entirely. Make sure everyone in your group has a supply of masks (which many businesses still require) and is up-to-date on their vaccinations. Be sure to check the CDC Spring Break guidelines for the latest recommendations for staying safe.
During Your Spring Break Road Trip
Driving can be hazardous at any time, but the unpredictable weather of spring can make for hazardous conditions. The basic rules of safe driving apply during a spring road trips more than ever:
1) Wear your seat belt
▪ Seat belts only work if they’re worn correctly. Keep the shoulder strap across your chest, and make sure the belt across your lap is snug. Everyone in the car needs to wear a seatbelt, even in the back seat.
2) Rest when you’re tired
▪ You’re on vacation, remember? There’s no hurry. Pull over somewhere safe and nap when you feel drowsy, or let someone else take the wheel.
▪ Driving at night when you’re tired, visibility is low, and nocturnal animals tend to scurry across the roads is dangerous for you, your passengers, other cars, and those animals. Pull over, grab a meal, and hit the hay in a hotel room. The road will still be there in the morning.
3) Avoid distracted driving
▪ Road trips are long, the people in the car are fun, and the internet is always a temptation. As the driver, your job is to resist temptation and stay focused. Put your phone away and have a passenger navigate. Keep your eyes on the road at all times.
4) Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
▪ Driving under the influence is unsafe and illegal. If you and your passengers want to celebrate at a bar along the way, select a designated driver for the rest of that day’s drive, or get a hotel room.
These common-sense measures can make you a safe driver on your spring break road trip. But what if you’re hit by another driver, in spite of doing everything right? If you’ve been in an accident, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney at Cullotta Bravo Law Group. Call us at 630-898-7800 or tell us about your case here.