How to Protect Yourself While on the Road

When it comes to college, there a few things that are assumed: you won’t be getting much sleep in the next few years, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for home-cooked meals, and you’re probably going to be spending a decent amount of time on the road. The fact is, college students are constantly driving home for holidays, long weekends, school breaks and various other reasons, like being homesick or visiting their significant other. So considering how much time a student will spend traveling, it’s important to make sure they’re being safe in the process.

1.) Be realistic. Believe me, I completely understand the, “If I leave right now I’ll be pulling in around 9:00 tomorrow morning…” mentality. I’ve been there, as I reasoned with myself to make the 12 hour drive to Seattle after a day of classes in Montana. The truth it, this is incredibly dangerous! No amount of redbull is going to keep you safe on the road when you haven’t slept in 26 hours. Your reflexes, perception and judgement are all negatively affected, putting you in a situation for disaster.

2.) Plan your route. It can be tempting to just drive off into the sunset toward your destination, especially with all the GPS devices we have built into most cars or phones. Planning your trip should give you an idea of what kind of weather to expect, which routes to take to avoid heavy construction and what you’re going to need for gas money. Plus, before you go decide what route you’re going to take and tell someone about it: your roommate, your parents, etc. That way, if something goes wrong everyone know exactly which route to start searching first.

3.) Don’t be afraid to rest. There is nothing wrong with pulling over to take a quick nap. Sure, a truck-stop or empty Walmart parking lot isn’t ideal, but driving with a bobbing head is just asking for trouble. Even a quick 30 minutes will leave you feeling refreshed enough to make it to a hotel if you have to.

An even better idea: bring someone along with you and switch off! Sharing driving duties is a great way to stay safe as well as kill hours of time.

4.) Pack some food and water. Of course you’re going to need some snacks to keep yourself alert, but it’s also nice to know if you get stranded with a flat tire you won’t be completely starving.

5.) Give your car a checkup. Speaking of breaking down on the side of the road, make sure you bring your car in to get inspected before a long trip. You’ll want to make sure you’re not due for an oil change when you hit the road, and other things (headlights, wipers, signals, brakes, etc.) are all working properly. In addition, having a traveler’s road safety kit and packing the right equipment to change a spare tire as well as some jumper cables is essential.

6.) Have some kind of protective gear. You never know when you might need it, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So carrying a bottle of pepper spray or a personal alarm couldn’t hurt. Plus, it would definitely make you feel better should you have to pull over at a truck stop for a quick break.

4.) Leave the boos at home, stay off your cell phone and wear your seatbelt. Just do it. ‘Nuff said.


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