Travel by car is one of the most popular transportation options, but it is also one of the most dangerous. That’s why our next safety series will focus on Winter Road Trip Safety. Each part will focus on a different aspect of winter road travel, and we will cover everything from what to pack in your emergency car kit to how to keep your family safe on the road, and everything in between.

This first segment focuses on what to do while prepping for your winter road trip. If you’re planning on taking a road trip, near or far, to visit friends or relatives this season, here are a few things to make sure you remember before you hit the road.

Before setting out, there are a few important steps you should take to prepare you, your passengers, and your car.

•· It’s always a good idea to have a reputable mechanic do a thorough inspection on your car before taking a long trip. They can identify problems or potential problems ahead of time, giving you the opportunity to fix that tire with a nail in it before you leave, rather than on the side of the road somewhere along the way. Likewise, if you have any outstanding maintenance work, such as an oil change, you should have these services performed before going on your trip.

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•· Map out your course ahead of time. Rather than simply plugging in a destination address into your GPS the day you’re leaving, you should plan out your road trip several days before. Traffic can quickly snarl major interstates and highways, and any construction or road maintenance work being done will just aggravate the problems.

•· You should always tell a trusted individual where you’re going, when you think you’ll get there, and if you’re planning on making any pit stops. That way, if you get lost, crash, or breakdown, someone will know where to look for you and when to start looking. If you can also arrange for that person to look in on your house or apartment in your absence, that’s even better.

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•· Make sure to pack smart, and pack for the road, not just the destination. Pack any safety gear and necessities you might need, such as road flares, a functional spare tire, water, energy bars, and a first aid kit. During the winter, you should consider packing seasonal items such as blankets and extra clothing, hand warmers, snow chains, and a snow shovel. Roadside assistance programs are also wise investments.

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•· If you have one, you should always bring your cell phone on road trips with you, as well as any necessary chargers and adapters so that it can be charged from within the car. The beauty of cell technology is that, nearly wherever you are, if you experience an emergency while on the road, you can reach help by using your mobile device.

•· Be sure that your child’s car seat or booster seat is the appropriate size/type for them and that it is properly installed in your car. According to Team Educators for Child Safety (TECHS) in Pennsylvania, 9 out of 10 car seats are improperly installed. Many towns have free annual car seat safety checks and a number of organizations have regular training sessions. In fact, TECHS offers personal appointments where you can learn how to properly install your child’s safety seat. You can learn more about the training sessions and view a calendar of events or schedule an appointment at

Check back later for part two of our Winter Road Trip Safety series, for helpful tips and tricks to keep you and your family safe while traveling during the winter season.

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