For many people, 2021 is when they’re hitting the road after staying cooped up for all or most of 2020. The pandemic caused lockdowns, but most local governments are not enforcing those any longer. That means you can take that vacation you put off for months, or you can see relatives living a few states over that you sorely missed.
There are particular dangers you should know about, though, if you’re going to gas up the family car and hit the road. Let’s talk about some of the most prevalent ones.
You probably already know that if you’re out on the highway, you have to share that space with some enormous trucks. These are usually commercial vehicles that carry all manner of goods from one state to another. Some might even travel thousands of miles from the East to the West coast, and vice versa.
You would hope that the truck drivers at the wheel of these behemoths know what they’re doing. They do need commercial trucking licenses to operate a big rig. That doesn’t mean you might not have a driver who dozes off at the wheel sometime or who has decided to take a swig of alcohol before starting on a cross-country trip.
Commercial trucks can weigh 26,000 pounds when they’re empty, while your family car might weigh about 5,000 pounds by comparison. Consider how much of a difference that is. A single wheel jerk from a truck driver can send you flying into a ditch or highway divider.
The best thing you might do is to stay as far away from these big rigs as possible. If you see one near you, you can either speed up till you pass it or slow down until it gets away from you. Either way, treat these juggernauts with the respect their size deserves.
If you’re traveling during a very hot time of the year, or it’s just a particularly warm day, being in the car might not be all that pleasant. It’s true that you can roll down the windows or turn on the AC, but dehydration can still be an issue during a long, multiple-hour car ride.
The way to combat this is to stop at a gas station, grocery store, or truck stop and fill up on water and energy drinks. Energy drinks like Gatorade contain electrolytes, which your body craves on hot days. Drinking throughout the day can keep you alert and comfortable while you’re behind the wheel.
If you’re traveling at night, and you decide to stop for gas or to stretch your legs, you should be careful if the only truck stop or rest area does not have plenty of light illuminating the area. A dark truck stop or rest area can be fertile territory for someone who wants to rob you or has some other bad intention in mind.
If possible, try to find a gas station or truck stop that has plenty of people around and has large arc-sodium lights, so the place is as bright as daytime. This way, you should see anyone who tries to approach you coming.
It’s even better if you see a state trooper parked there. That way, you know law enforcement is hanging around to keep you safe if someone tries anything out of line.
Low Tire Pressure
You should probably get your car a tune-up before you leave on a long trip. If you have an older vehicle with more than 100,000 miles on it, getting your local mechanic to look it over makes a whole lot of sense.
Also, you should make sure to take a look at your tire pressure before you start your trip. You can see what your tire pressure PSI should be by looking on the driver’s side door. Usually, you’ll want the tires to have 36 PSI, but some vehicles call for a different number.
If your tire pressure is low, you can fill them up at your local gas station, or there are also devices you can buy on Amazon that will both check your tire pressure and let you fill them up right there in your garage or driveway. They are not very expensive or difficult to learn how to use.
Doing this makes a blowout less likely when you’re on the highway, far from home. A blowout can be deadly if it causes you to hit another vehicle or the center divider.