Safety puts brakes on long-distance driving accidents

  • Published
  • By Regina Coffey
  • 95th Air Base Wing Ground Safety
Road trips can be fun. They also bring challenges that are not present in day-to-day driving. To keep your passengers safe, consider the following advice before embarking on an extended road trip:

Plan your route 

Map out the route you will take. Decide how far you will travel each day and where you will stay. Give the details to your family members. Accidents, breakdowns and medical emergencies can happen at the most inconvinient time and place. Not all areas will have cell phone coverage. If you can't get help, someone will know you are missing and can arrange help to find you.

Maintain your vehicle 

Mechanical breakdowns can be dangerous, particularly when the vehicle is in motion. Ensuring your vehicle is properly serviced before you leave will go a long way to preventing accidents caused by mechanical failure. During your trip, regularly check the levels of coolant, brake, clutch, and transmission and power steering fluids.


You will spend more hours behind the wheel when on a road trip. Driving while fatigued can be as dangerous as driving under the influence. Take regular breaks and share the driving. Do not start your trip after a long day's work, and never drive when you would normally be asleep. If you find that you are yawning or your eyelids are getting heavy, pull over and take a nap.

Seasonal driving 

A road trip can take you into weather conditions you have never experienced. Research the weather for the season and places you are traveling through.

Driving in snow 

Use snow tires or snow chains and know how to fit them. Turn your lights on and drive slowly. Avoid hard braking and turning maneuvers.

Wildfires and brushfires 

Keep up to date with wildfire and brushfire locations. If you are trapped, park in the barest possible area, close all windows and find shelter on the floor. Cover yourself with a blanket or a towel, and don't move until you are sure the fire has passed.


If you are headed through areas where you might encounter wildlife, avoid driving at dawn when animals are more likely to be moving around. Pay attention to posted signs and scan the road and the shoulder. Use high beam lights for better visibility but dim your lights if you see an animal. Headlights can daze the animal and freeze them in your path. 

Planning ahead and understanding the driving conditions will ensure your road trip is safe and fun.