Car safety tips for solo road trips

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Taking a road trip on your own can be fun and liberating, but it also takes some extra...

Taking a road trip on your own can be fun and liberating, but it also takes some extra planning. Driving on your own means taking extra precautions to make sure you don't get stranded on your own or fall asleep at the wheel. Practice these car safety rules for a fun, safe solo adventure.

  1. Prepare your car. Before you leave Atlanta, stop by your trusted auto mechanic to make sure your car is reliable enough to make the trip.
  2. Remember the map. Refresh your map-reading skills before the trip. Blindly following your GPS can lead you into trouble if its data is outdated or simply wrong; compare its suggested route to a good map and think critically. Does the route make sense? Can you see a better one on the map? Bring the map with you in case your GPS breaks or you need to change routes because of detours or construction.
  3. Tell a friend. Once you have a route, make sure a friend or family member knows where you are going, which route you will follow, and when to expect a check-in call from you. Tell this person to alert authorities if you miss that check-in. No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios, but thinking about them is usually the best way to avoid them.
  4. Plan for emergencies. Roadside assistance services are a great idea, but they can help only if you have a cell phone signal to call them. A solo road trip is a bad time to be clueless about cars. You need to know how to change a flat, jump start a dead battery, check the oil and coolant and add more of those fluids, if needed. Car safety also requires some basic equipment: a spare tire, a jack and lug wrench, a funnel, a flashlight, extra batteries and a set of jumper cables.
  5. Be cautious. If you find yourself stranded, don't accept a ride from a stranger; if someone approaches you to offer help, stay in your car with the door locked, and roll the window down just a crack so that you can hear. Never pick up a stranger; if you see someone pulled over who appears to need help, keep driving and call the police to help them.
  6. Fight drowsiness and distraction. Energetic music can help you stay awake, but make sure the volume won't drown out car horns, sirens from emergency vehicles or problems with your car. Set your music up in advance to avoid pushing buttons while you're driving. If you need someone to talk to, use a hands-free device to call them; if you have to dial by hand, pull over first. Never text or dial while driving. If you're too drowsy to reach a motel for the night, stop for a nap in a well-lit, busy area like a store parking lot; stay close to the building and keep your doors locked.
  7. Enjoy the journey! Don't forget to enjoy yourself on your trip! Follow these tips and you'll be ready to go!

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