When you think about taking care of your health and the health of your family members, you probably focus on eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising daily.
However, you can make health a priority another way, too: by driving safely.
Below are a few tried-and-true tips to help you ensure that every road trip ends on a better note.
Buckle Up Every Time
Although you probably don’t like to even think about getting into a car crash, accidents do happen.
Fortunately, vehicles are outfitted with seat belts. Keep yours in working order and use them diligently.
Oh, and be sure your kids do, too.
Of course, sometimes elementary-aged children riding in the backseat balk at the idea of putting on a seat belt.
Remind them that they are among the 86% of youngsters in at least very good health.
Then, tell them that seat belts will make sure they maintain their health while traveling from one point to another.
Avoid Driving While Distracted
Everyone has seen distracted drivers on the road.
They’re obviously texting or reading off their smartphones.
Or they’re eating a big meal.
Perhaps they’re putting on makeup or fiddling with the radio or air conditioning vents.
Whatever the cause, they’re putting others in danger.
The next time you slide behind the wheel, put your phone and other distracting items away.
If you have a beverage with you, make sure the top is loose enough so you don’t have to use both hands to quench your thirst.
If you hear a “ding” indicating you have a text message or alert, refuse to look at your device.
Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can be all it takes to get into a serious or even fatal accident.
Drive Within Posted Speed Limits
Would it surprise you to learn that more than eight out of 10 motorists admit that they think it’s okay to go 10 or more miles above posted speeds?
Not only are they wrong, but they’re putting everyone else’s health in jeopardy by gunning the motor and going too fast.
Speed limits aren’t arbitrarily decided. Instead, they’re based on data and science.
For instance, a 25-mile speed limit in a residential neighborhood zone doesn’t mean it’s okay to go 35 or 40.
Residential communities attract families and pedestrian traffic.
The faster you go above the speed limit, the bigger the risk you’re taking.
You would feel terrible if you hit someone or caused property damage that could have been avoided.
Go slowly and don’t worry about being first in line.
Get the Family Car Checked Regularly
Hear that rattle? It’s something you shouldn’t ignore.
In fact, you should treat checkups for your car the way you treat physicals for yourself and your loved ones.
At least once or twice yearly, have your favorite mechanic give your vehicle a once-over.
Even if it’s just to change the oil or rotate the tires, you’ll know that your car, truck, van, or SUV is safe for operation.
If you’re having trouble remembering to take your car in for routine visits, consider doing it seasonally.
For instance, you could arrange to have your vehicle’s health checked out in the spring before the busy summer months and in fall before the snowfalls.
Remember That Trucks Have Blind Spots
Many drivers get nervous when riding alongside, behind, or in front of trucks and big rigs.
And honestly, it can be a little intimidating to share the road with an 18-wheeler.
Trucks are involved in about a half-million roadway collisions yearly, and they cause a lot of property damage and personal injury.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are approximately 500,000 truck accidents – supplying nearly 2.5% of all vehicle accidents in the country.
You can reduce your chances of being in a crash with a truck by reminding yourself that truckers have several blind spots or zones.
Two of the biggest are directly behind the truck or along the back sides of the trailer.
Another blind spot is right in front of the truck.
Do your best to move legally but swiftly out of those blind spots when you’re on a highway or street with a lot of trucks.
Make Sure Children Stay Put During Car Rides
Do your kids try to move around from seat to seat during your car rides?
Put a stop to it immediately because it’s a bad habit.
If you find that your family seems restless when you’re driving an hour or more, add some stops to your travels.
That way, you’ll allow everyone to get a mental health and wellness break.
You’ll also be able to stretch your legs, go to the bathroom, and eat a healthy snack.
Get Medical Treatment Immediately After All Accidents
Let’s say you get into a small accident or fender bender.
You might be tempted to just ignore any problems and go your merry way.
Instead, make an appointment with your primary care physician.
Many crash injuries like concussion, whiplash, and even slipped back discs show up later.
They can cause problems down the road if they’re left untreated, too.
About 52% of seniors 65 and older require long-term health services later in life.
Sometimes, the problem that put them into a long-term care facility stemmed from not addressing health issues sooner.
Keep Pets Harnessed During Traveling
Having a balanced life involves being a pet parent for many people.
Even though you love your furry friends and want them to sit with you while you drive, resist the urge to let them roam around your vehicle.
Rather, make sure they are harnessed or secure in a travel carrier designed for everyday trips or longer vacation-level journeys.
True, your dog or cat might not like being cooped up.
And you can’t explain why you’re keeping them tethered to one spot.
However, you’ll know that you’re doing the right thing and making pet care a priority.
Plus, if you get in a car wreck, they’ll be safer than if they were walking around the vehicle at the time of impact.
Pull Over If You Are Feeling Tired
Maybe you didn’t get enough zzzs last night.
Your eyes feel heavy. Your brain seems fuzzy. And all you can think about is hitting the sack.
However, if you’re behind the wheel, you may want to wait to get home.
When you’re feeling so exhausted that you’re unable to drive accurately, pull over.
Taking a quick nap for self-care will recharge you for the ride home.
Staying safe and putting your health first while driving should always be on your agenda.
Best of all, the more you practice safe driving, the higher the chances your kids will follow your lead when they get their driver’s licenses.