Driving Safety Tips on Road Trips

Dealing with Distractions While Driving

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving (FARS and GES). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved some type of distracted driving and 18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes involved the use of a mobile phone. Sadly, 16% of the drivers cited for distracted driving car crashes (i.e. texting/cell phone use) were under-20 years of age. [Please note that according to NHTSA, there are no car accidents, only car crashes].

Road trips are an American tradition and a great way to save when you take a vacation. Now, if you've heard that it's safer to fly in an airplane than it is to travel in an automobile, you've heard correctly. However, even though it may be cheaper in some cases, depending on where you're going, it's certainly not safer so you need to know these driving safety tips for road trips that cover the basics and understand how to deal with distractions while driving.

Since I live in a city known for it's never ending traffic, five to seven lane freeways, and lots of SIG alerts, some of these driving tips seem like common sense to me. Unfortunately, I don't see a lot of of common sense being used by drivers in Los Angeles when I'm behind the wheel of my car. Whether I'm driving hundreds of miles on vacation or just driving around town, these driving safety tips for road trips may not only save you headaches, but they may also save your life so please share this article on Facebook and Twitter with your family and friends.

Don't Text and Drive -- EVER

Don't text and drive. This should be common sense, but if it were, there wouldn't be so many car crashes caused by people who are texting while driving. I don't care if you have two heads and four arms, texting and driving is dangerous. Road situations can change in an instant and instant is all it takes for you to lose control of your vehicle and end up in the path of oncoming traffic.

Please watch this 30-second real time video of an SUV driver loosing control of their vehicle and being smashed by a semi-truck after possibly being distracted by texting while driving.

There's no proof that texting while driving caused THIS particular car crash, but then, does it really matter? If you're ever tempted to text and drive again after you view this video, just think of this video scene. I know I do this any time I'm tempted to even read a text while driving. So the bottom line is pull over to the side of the road and text back if that's important.

If you think it can't happen to you, it can. Please watch this public service video from the U.K. on what can happen when you text and drive. Would you rather be safe? Or Dead? The choice is yours and remember, it's not just your life that could be affected by your decision.

[Video: P.S.A. Texting While Driving (Warning: Very Graphic)]

I hope you don't mind that I'm spending some time on this issue. I'm giving it a lot of attention because it's become a problem bigger than drunk driving. CHEK NEWS caught a young woman having a text conversation. Why wouldn't you have an old-fashioned conversation while driving - like by talking (not texting) on the cell phone?

Don't Read Texts or Emails While Driving

Reading texts or emails on your PDA while driving is equally dangerous because it takes your attention away from driving. A friend of mine got pulled over in L.A. and ticketed for reading a text while driving. If you're traveling alone, simply don't read texts while driving. Wait until you're stopped at a stoplight to read any incoming texts/emails or pull over to the side of the road to read texts/emails if you're expecting an important message. If you're traveling with someone in the car with you, have them read the text to you and respond for you if the text/email needs an immediate response. Or here's an idea: CALL the person who sent you the text to respond.

Use Hands Free Cell Phone Options

It amazes me how many people I still see on the road with a cell phone held up to their ear when I'm driving around town. It amazes me because in California, where I live, it's been illegal to use a hand held cell phone while driving for over 18 months or longer. An old high school friend of mine in Indiana was talking on her hand held cell phone while driving her SUV several years ago and flipped her vehicle. She's lucky to be alive, but she paid a huge price. Her right arm was amputated as a result of injuries she received when her SUV crashed. Is that cell phone conversation worth losing your arm? Or worse? Headsets and hands free tools are inexpensive and easy to use (you don't have to use a blue tooth). Many newer cars have hands free features as well, so take advantage of them.

Note: Although hands free driving is widely accepted as being more safe than holding a mobile phone while driving, talking on hands-free or handheld cell phones requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving.

Don't Watch Your DVD Player While Driving

Think this is silly? I know a gal who used to put a DVD player on the dashboard of her SUV to watch movies during her long drives from Southern to Northern California. It's okay if the kids are watching a DVD in the backseat, but the driver should only be watching the road...period.

Have Road Trip Rules for Kids

Kids can be a huge distraction while driving especially if parents are refereeing backseat arguments. If the kids get into arguments while you're driving that needs your attention, then pull over and deal with it. Don't attempt to referee while you're behind the wheel of your vehicle. Also, educate your children on passenger safety and understanding how their bad behavior can cause you to be distracted with terrible consequences.

Don't Drink and Drive

This should seem like a no brainer, but unfortunately, many people drink and drive because they're not drunk per se. They're just buzzed. Buzzed driving IS drunk driving. When in doubt, wait it out or call a cab. It's not worth it.

You may want to invest in a pocket breathalyzer, widely available at Walmart, if you're at all concerned that you may be over the limit. This will help you know whether it's safe for you to drive or not or if you need to call a cab to take you home.

Options for Parents wtih Teens that Drive

Here are two tech options available for parents designed to prevent cell phone distractions while your teenager is operating a motor vehicle: ZoomSafer and iZUP.

ZoomSafer is blocks outgoing calls, sends incoming calls to voicemail and holds incoming texts and emails. They also offer a product for parents called TeenSafer which restricts inbound and outbound calls to three priority contacts and sends automatic, customized message in reply to texts which let the contact know that the teen is driving. Another feature notifies parents when their teen's car is in operation.

iZUP is a mobile application for your teen’s cell phone so that your teenager’s car becomes a “No Phone Zone.” The app holds text messages, emails, calls, and prevents web browsing while the car is in motion. It does allow unlimited access to 911 and a list of authorized contacts. This will allow you to be able to reach your child in an emergency.

Using TeenSafer or iZUP allows parents to rest more easily so that your teen’s cell phone will not be a temptation to distract them while driving.

Now that you have to safety tips to avoid distractions when driving on road trips, don't forget to review the basic driving tips for road trips before you hit the road on vacation.

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Driving Hands Free with Mobile Phone Not Safe Not rated yet
While most of the tips are important, the tip of using a hands free cell phone is not. The mistaken belief by many is that using a hands free phone is …

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Distracted Driving
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Very well done Marianne. I will post this to FB, Twitter and Google plus. I still see people everyday, every where I drive people driving under the influence …

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more