Labor Day Travel: Tips for a Safe, Enjoyable Road Trip

Are you one of the 31.5 million travelers who will be going out on the road this Labor Day weekend ? Although AAA says 2.4 percent fewer Americans will travel farther than 50 miles away from home this weekend, that is still a large number of the population added to the normal flow of traffic.

Forbes reports Sept. 2 is the second most deadly day on the road all year, according to the Institute for Highway Safety, with the Fourth of July the deadliest.

Here are some tips to help make your road trip, and last summer weekend, a fun and enjoyable event, as well as a safe one.

Filling up

With gas prices rising instead of decreasing over Labor Day weekend for the first time since 1997, it’s important to search for the best deal before you head out on the road. If you’re not already aware, GasBuddy is one of the best sites online where you can enter your city or zip code and determine which gas station has the cheapest prices.

I’ve used the site numerous times, and on long road trips it’s a great way to determine where to stop and fill-up on the way.

Car safety checklist

Don’t make the mistake of becoming too excited about your road trip to skip the necessary steps to reduce the risk of a breakdown on the road.

* Check your car’s engine oil level and fill as needed. Bring an extra quart or two just in case.

* Make sure your spare tire is usable. A flat in the middle of nowhere isn’t a big deal if you have a spare. If you don’t, trust me — it can turn into a nightmare quickly.

* Check your windshield washer fluid and wiper blades, as well as all fluid levels and inspect all belts, caps, hoses and filters.

* Bring an emergency road kit. Some of the items to include are jumper cables, a set of basic tools, a gallon of water, blankets, flashlight, road flares, first-aid kit, protective clothing, and duct tape.

* Though most people use their cell phones for directions, remember to bring a road map in case you are in an area without service.

Car comfort

* Bring a small cooler with snacks and beverages, especially water.

* If you have kids, be sure to bring something that will keep them occupied for an extended period of time.

* A great way to keep children occupied is with a cheap, disposable camera. Purchase one for each child and let them have fun by documenting their journey.

* Wear comfortable, loose clothing

* Plan to stop every couple of hours to stretch your legs and if possible take the scenic route whenever possible. Even if it takes slightly longer, if you’re passing beautiful scenery the trip seems faster.

One of the biggest factors in fatalities on the road is drinking and driving. This weekend there will be extra law enforcement patrolling in every state to be on the lookout for impaired drivers. Don’t make the mistake of imbibing before you drive. Even a small amount can earn you a DUI, or even worse, end up in a tragic accident.

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