How can I Take a Safe Road Trip During the Pandemic?

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Fewer people are traveling this year because the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At a time when travel is normally the busiest, more families are choosing to stay home and avoid the road trips they would normally take this time of year, particularly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that staying home is the best way to avoid spreading or contracting COVID-19. For motorists who do plan to travel, there are steps they can take to reach their destination safely.

From ensuring that the vehicle is in good working order to wearing masks and social distancing at public rest stops, the following safety tips can help travelers avoid serious accidents and reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19. For travelers who have an accident while on a road trip, an experienced car accident lawyer can provide valuable assistance.

Plan Ahead

Traveling during a global pandemic requires careful planning and preparation. Even if this is a trip that a family has taken numerous times before, some states have COVID-related restrictions for which travelers should be aware before they start their trip. For example, depending on the state that the travelers are from, some states require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or that travelers quarantine for a specified amount of time. In addition, if the road trip includes staying the night in a hotel, AAA recommends calling ahead to confirm that the hotel is open, that they have vacancies, and that there are no surprises on checking in to the hotel.

Packing and Sanitizing

Travelers should keep a supply of hand sanitizer in the car at all times, as well as wet wipes, disposable gloves, sealable disposable bags, and tissues. Masks must be worn whenever going into a public restroom, convenience store, restaurant, or any other indoor public space, as well as outdoors if it is not possible to practice safe social distancing. Travelers should bring plenty of food and water so that it is not necessary to make multiple stops for food.

Stopping for Fuel

Safety officials suggest that when stopping to get gas, drivers should wear disposable gloves when pumping gas instead of wiping off the nozzle. The gloves should be discarded after the tank is filled. In addition, motorists are urged to pay for gas with a credit card rather than cash. The credit card and the credit card machine can be wiped down and sanitized, whereas cash cannot be cleaned.

Restroom Hygiene

When using a public restroom, travelers should avoid touching any surfaces, particularly after washing their hands. Many public bathrooms have touchless flushing and motion-sensor towel dispensers, but individuals should use a tissue to a paper towel to turn off the faucet or open the door to avoid touching a contaminated surface.

Food Breaks

Although most fast-food chains are open for take-out orders, dine-in restaurants may be open, either for outdoor dining only or for limited indoor seating. That means that customers who wish to dine at a restaurant may have to wait for a table. According to the CDC, even with tables spaced six feet apart, dining inside is riskier than outdoor dining. Take-out, delivery, or curb-side pickup is the safest way to dine. Travelers are urged to pack extra food and water to avoid stopping at public restaurants if at all possible.

Hotel Stays

Most hotels are using enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols, and encourage mask wearing and social distancing in public areas such as lobbies and dining areas. However, guests are encouraged to take additional sanitation measures by wiping down all high-touch surfaces in the room, including doorknobs, remote controls, faucets, telephones, and countertops.

What General Safety Tips Should Be Kept in Mind When Taking a Road Trip?

The COVID-19 pandemic will not last forever. Eventually, people will be able to return to their normal lives and start getting together with friends and family again without worrying about getting sick or making someone else sick. However, even when traveling no longer poses a health risk, there is still the risk of being in a serious car accident. In addition to the steps motorists should take to avoid getting COVID-19 while traveling, the following safety tips can help drivers, and the other occupants of the vehicles, avoid being seriously injured in a car accident.

Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained. Before any road trip, motorists should make sure that the vehicle is in good working order. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the car should be up to date on its maintenance schedule, including oil change, battery check, and tire rotation. Also, drivers should check the coolant, tire pressure, brakes, belts, hoses, filters, lights, and windshield wiper blades and fluid. In addition, the car owner should check to see if there are any safety recalls and take care of the issue before the road trip.

Prepare the vehicle for winter weather. Drivers should make sure that the vehicle is prepared for extreme weather, including ice, snow, and sleet. Motorists should always check the latest weather report before hitting the road and avoid driving during inclement weather if possible. When driving during ice, snow, or freezing rain, extreme caution must be used. According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 20 percent of car accidents each year are due to inclement weather conditions. Motorists are urged to slow down, keep their attention focused on the road, avoid hitting the brakes, and leave extra room between their vehicle and the car ahead.

Keep an emergency kit in the car. It is always a good idea to keep an emergency kit in the car in case the vehicle breaks down or gets stranded in a snowstorm. An emergency kit should include the following items:

  • Extra blankets and warm clothing
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Portable cell phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid
  • Flares
  • Tool kit
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • First-aid kit

Do not drive drowsy. According to the NHTSA, in 2017, approximately 91,000 accidents were caused by drowsy driving. Drivers who are awake for over 18 hours experience impairments similar to those of drivers who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. A BAC of 0.08 percent is considered legally drunk in all 50 states. Motorists should get at least seven hours of sleep each night. If a driver starts to feel drowsy, he or she should pull over to a safe, well-lit spot and take a short nap.

Follow the rules of the road. From wearing a seat belt to obeying the speed limit, motorists must always remember the basics of road safety. That means putting the phone down, keeping their attention focused on the road ahead, and making safety a priority at all times. If a motorist needs to pull over, they should avoid stopping on the side of the road, particularly at night. Drivers should be aware of aggressive drivers or tailgaters. It is best to change lanes or take the next exit if another driver is driving aggressively.

Keep the gas tank at least half full. When the gas tank is low on fuel, condensation can accumulate inside the gas tank, which can cause a range of problems. For example, if the temperatures get below freezing, the fuel lines can freeze, which may prevent the car from starting. In addition, if the car gets stranded in a snowstorm, having plenty of gas in the tank means that the occupants can keep the car running intermittently to stay warm.

Use the correct car seat for children. Different car seats are used based on the child’s age, weight, and height. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provide important information about car seats, how lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) systems work, how snug the seat belt should fit, and if there are any product recalls.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Compensation for Victims of Car Accidents

If you were injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will determine whether the other driver involved in the accident was responsible for causing the accident. If negligence was involved, we hold the driver liable for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through the claims process and obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.