Driving Safety Tips on Road Trips

The Basics

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Road trips are a popular vacation and a great way to save when you travel and if you've heard that it's safer to fly in a plane than it is to travel in a car, you've heard correctly. It may be cheaper in some cases, depending on where you're going, but it's not safer. That's why it's important to review these driving safety tips for road trips that cover the basics and distracted driving concerns.

I live in Los Angeles, a city known for it's never ending traffic, five to seven lane freeways, and lots of SIG alerts. Some of these driving tips may seem like common sense, but unfortunately, I don't see a lot of of common sense being used by drivers when I'm behind the wheel of a 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 also save your life so please share this article on Facebook and Twitter with your family and friends.

Be a Defensive Driver

For me, this is the number one driving safety tip for road trips above all others because if you are a defensive driver, every other tip is probably not necessary. What does it mean to be a defensive driver? First, it means that you're always looking out for other drivers and doing your best to anticipate what they'll do to avoid collisions. Second, it's not about your right of way. Would you rather tell the police officer, "But I had the right of way," when he's taking a report on a collision involving your vehicle or would you rather not be involved in a collision in the first place? Finally, being a defensive driver means you also do things like not making left hand turns unless you're at a light and not making left hand turns onto a busy street over a double yellow. You get the picture, right?

Obey the Traffic Laws and Don't Speed

For many drivers, going five to ten miles over the speed limit on the highway is the norm, but be careful. Never drive faster than it feels safe to do so and beware of where you're driving. Some states are more lenient on drivers who only speed five miles over the limit, where others are very strict. Also, around cities like Phoenix, they have photo enforced speed limits so whether you want to avoid a ticket or just drive at a safe speed, obeying the speed limit is a standard driving safety tip for road trips.

Don't Tailgate

I don't know about you, but I can't stand it when drivers tailgate because it is so dangerous. Did you know that most rear end collisions are caused by tailgating? To avoid tailgating, use the "three-second rule." When the vehicle ahead of you passes a certain point such as a sign, count "one thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three." This takes about three seconds. If you pass the same point before you finish counting, you are following too closely. When I started driving, I learned the "seven-second rule" or one-second for every 10mph's your traveling. I still follow the "seven-second rule" because it will give you time to respond and maneuver if the situation in front of you changes quickly. The more space you allow between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead, the more time you will have to see a hazard, and stop or avoid that hazard.

Pass With Care and Caution

Passenger vehicle drivers incorrectly assume that a trucker can see the road better because he or she is higher off the road. While they do have a better view to see what's in front of them and bigger mirrors, truckers still have large blind spots and your vehicle can get lost in those blind spots. You block the trucker’s ability to take evasive action to avoid a dangerous situation if you drive in those blind spots (as you can see in the graphic below). A good rule of thumb is that if you can't see the truck driver in his or her side mirror, he or she can't see you either. These blind spots are often called the "No Zone." I also see many trucks driving on highways with arrows to help you out and direct you to "passing side" (on the left side of the truck) or "suicide" (on the right side of the truck).

When Changing Lanes, Don't Trust Your Mirrors

Never change lanes without looking over your shoulder visually. Do not depend only on your mirrors or only looking out a side window. Turn and look over your right and left shoulders before you change lanes. The situation on the highway can change quickly when you're traveling at speeds of 65 miles per hour or more.

Leave Early So You Won't Be Rushed

A lot of stress on a road trip can be eliminated by simply leaving early. If you start your day early, you'll avoid a lot of rush hour traffic. Also, when you don't allow enough time to accomplish your distance goals for a day, you can become more anxious and stressed behind the wheel of your car.

Now that you have the basics on driving safety tips for road trips, it's time to tackle driving tips for road trips to avoid distractions when driving before you hit the road on vacation.

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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