Travelers Can Play It Safe on Road Trips

Planning a road trip is an undertaking thousands make every year. A road trip can be the ideal way to spend a vacation and see the country. Just as important as the route and destinations are the safety precautions drivers should take.

Family road trips have become the rage again. And even teenagers and young adults are discovering the mystique of seeing the world from the open road. Despite fuel prices, road trips can still be an economical way to travel and spend time together with friends and family.

While historically it may have been safe and standard protocol to pull over to the side of the road just about anywhere on a road trip, these days road-trippers need to be more cautious about their surroundings. To make the road trip memorable and as safe as possible, consider these tips.

* Drive during the day. Do the bulk of the driving, eating, rest-stop visits, and refueling during the day. At night, potential crooks are more likely to surface. In the daylight, it's easier to assess if an area is safe to stop. Try to be in a motel or rest area by sunset.

* Don't rush the trip. Follow speed limits on the roadways. Some areas have stricter laws regarding speeding and traffic violations. Road-trippers don't want to end up in jail or with a fine when they are supposed to be enjoying the ride. Also, why rush by scenic areas that can contribute to the enjoyment of the trip?

* Share travel plans with others. If a road trip will last several days and take travelers through many different towns and on several roads, it pays to share the itinerary with someone staying behind. This way if that person hasn't heard from the road warriors for some time, he or she can check in and verify safety. This person is also available in the event of an emergency.

* Keep the fuel tank full. There are a few things worse than running out of gas on a desolate road. Drivers who keep the gas tank at least half full at all times will be sure they have enough fuel to make it to the next service station.

* Make stops at well-populated areas. Well-maintained, bustling areas tend to be safer than those with only a few people around. Avoid gas stations and restaurants that are in the middle of nowhere.

* Always be aware of surroundings. Just because an area looks safe and friendly doesn't mean a traveler should let his or her guard down. Know who is around and be cautious of money and belongings at all times. The goal is to arrive at the destination safely and happily.