Safety Tips for Traveling By Car

Traveling by car can be an enjoyable experience for the family. However, when traveling in the winter, there are a few things that can make your journey safer in the event of car problems.

With any travel, one of the best measures that you can take for your safety is to tell someone you trust where you are going, what route you plan on taking, and an approximate time that you expect to arrive. If you don't make it to your destination on time, they can start the process of looking for you sooner than if nobody knew when to expect you.

Make Sure Your Car is Road ReadyMake Sure Your Car is Road Ready
Especially when driving long distances, make sure that your vehicle is in good repair before you leave. This includes making sure that your tires have enough tread to be safe, they are inflated properly, your radiator has the right fluid, and all of your other fluids are topped off. A quick trip to the local quick-change oil stop will actually take care of most of these items.

Always make sure that your tire tread is good. Take a penny, turn it so that Lincoln's head is upside down and place it into the groove of the tread pattern. If you can see the top of his head, you don't have enough tread on your tires.

Other things that you should double check include the wipers, all lights, battery and heater. If any of these is even "maybe" good, it is a good idea to repair or replace them before you leave. These are all important safety items all year 'round, but especially for winter travel.

Be it a Map or GPS, Make Sure You Have Good DirectionsBe it a Map or GPS, Make Sure You Have Good Directions
Before you depart, make certain that you have good directions and current maps between your starting point and destination. Keep your gas tank full, and don't let it get below half before you fill up again. Also, make and pack a winter preparedness kit and keep it in the car.

The kit should include:

  • Snow Gear, such as an ice scrapper, snow brush, a small shovel, boots and gloves.
  • Jumper Cables
  • Emergency Signaling Device, such as road flares.
  • First Aid Kit, large enough to cover most basic injuries.
  • Blankets, the blankets that you pack should be the silver "space blankets" in addition to something thicker. Disaster blankets are a good option, as they are wool blend and inexpensive.
  • Non-perishable Food, not just snacks for the road, keep a box or two set aside for an emergency.
  • Water, store the water in some sort of container that will contain any spill, especially if you're storing it somewhere not heated. Commercial water bottles from the grocery store can burst if they freeze.

Traveling in extreme weather is nothing to take lightly, but with a little preparation you can tackle any unexpected emergency with no problem.

-- Thanks to WDWFG Guest Author, Geordon VanTassle! Geordon is a disaster preparedness specialist who enjoys traveling to Walt Disney World with his wife and children.

Is your car ready for an emergency? What else would you do or pack before a road trip? Leave me a comment below and let us know!

jbarkee wrote on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 01:05:

jbarkee's picture

Disney World is still in sunny Florida.....right????

Are we running out of topics here?

Vettelover wrote on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 01:29:

Vettelover's picture

I think that there are still plenty of topics available BUT I for one still leave snowy NH to get to sunny Florida so while it may not pertain to you, it still does pertain to myself and a lot of other people from the northern climates and did qualify as informational.

Esskay wrote on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 02:03:

Esskay's picture

Some of the tips apply to Florida too, especially if you happen to decide to explore the back country routes. Tomorrow night the lows across northern Florida will be 30-34 possibly lower in areas. I've seen lots of people travel to Florida in shorts and flipflops depending on their car heater. That's kind of foolish, not to mention Orlando isn't exactly the tropics. In January-February it gets cool, sometimes downright cold.

nikamel wrote on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:11:

We drive down to florida from south western ontario and all those tips are great!There was only one time I encountered bad weather and it was in March 2008. It was one of the worst winter storms in years and of course it started the day we left for florida. Lucky for me I have an suv with mud and snow tires plus 4 wheel drive. Also I was prepared with extra cash for hotel rooms, extra winter clothes, blankets and food. We made it through on the I75 by driving very slowly and stopping at shopping malls and hotels when we needed to. On the way back believe or not we encountered a tornado in Atlanta...needless to say it was the craziest trip I have ever taken.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 14:56:

Kristen K.'s picture

jbarkee - I'm sorry that you feel I'm running out of topics to write about. You are absolutely welcome to send me a private message with suggestions of new pieces that would interest you.

Coming from Northern Illinois myself, this was a very relevant issue to me. After doing the posts about airport delays, I thought it right to also offer suggestions for those that travel by car. Many of these tips apply to traveling any time of year by car. The point of this piece was intended to be travel awareness. You never know when there will be an emergency and it's you're traveling long distances you should be prepared for the unexpected.

Thanks so much for your feedback. :-)

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