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How To Reach Your Destination Safely

Preparation is the first step for safe travel any time, anywhere. You need to know where you are going before you begin your trip―even a trip to the grocery store. Plan your route and your time in advance. If you live or travel in areas with extreme weather conditions, carry an emergency kit with you.

Safety Travel Tips

  • Plan your route, and for long trips, share your route with family or friends expecting you.
  • Watch the weather and plan accordingly. If storms are in the forecast, allow additional travel time.
  • Service your car before you depart. If an oil change is due, get it done before you leave. Sometimes, the mechanic will alert you to potential problems before they become headaches. Be sure to check the air and inflate your tires if needed, and top off fluid levels.
  • Replace wiper blades if needed.
  • Keep your car doors locked while you travel.
  • Fill up your gas tank before you leave, and then again before dark.
  • If you must reach your destination ASAP, make sure your route includes well-traveled roads during the late night hours; getting stranded or running low on fuel on a back road at midnight is scary.
  • Take breaks. You'll need stretch time every few hours; you can plan these breaks with gasoline or food stops to save a little time, but be sure to take them.
  • Buckle up. Make sure your children are in appropriate car seats, and that everyone stays buckled while the vehicle is in operation.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Traveling in unfamiliar territory, you could end up in dangerous territory. Observe those around you, and be prepared for anything.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight― on the floor, behind the seat, or in the trunk.
  • Confirm that your tire jack is in the car and know how to use it. Check the inflation of the spare tire. If you don't know how to use the jack, get someone to teach you, and practice before you leave home.

Besides your cell phone, you'll want to carry certain items in an emergency kit when you travel. Keep these easily accessible in a case or crate and place in your trunk:

  • Blankets
  • Flashlight, with extra batteries
  • Bottled water
  • First aid kit
  • Flares
  • Cold-weather clothing (extra gloves, socks, sweater, outerwear)
  • Can of Fix-A-Flat
  • Can of de-icer
  • Ice scraper
  • Sand or kitty litter (for traction in icy conditions)
  • Jumper cables
  • Rope for towing
  • Shovel―heavy-duty, folding
  • Food―especially necessary if traveling in winter weather; take enough for each person for one or more days
  • Hand and feet warmers―these handy pocket warmers are available in most sporting good departments and stores at a reasonable cost. They don't begin heating until you break the seal.

Remember that carbon monoxide builds from a car's exhaust and can poison you if you leave the car idling too long.

Most of all, remember to drive safely. Obey the speed limit and other traffic laws designed to keep you safe.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a great resource for road travelers. Type in your ZIP code, and you'll find travel guides, maps, attraction tickets, flight, hotel & car reservations, and planning tips. Check your local library―many offer free road maps published by AAA.

Magazines are fun resources before you travel, too. Check out Road & Travel.

Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and Fodor's offer great travel books, guides, maps, and online services.

Surf the net. Many states now offer traveler advisories online, so search for the states you'll be traveling for availability. You may find up-to-the-minute traffic reports, construction details or little-known travel tidbits.

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