Tips for Planning a Safe Summer Road Trip


Nearly 35 million Americans set out on road trips over the July 4th weekend alone, according to the American Automobile Association, and millions more will follow over the course of the summer. Many will log trips of several hundred miles or more, with the vast majority of travel in personal vehicles.

With this in mind, The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. offers some tips to help travelers plan for a safe and happy trip.

"Summer road trips are an American tradition and one of the true highlights of the year for many people," said Mark R. Desrochers, president, personal lines at The Hanover. "With all that's riding on these road trips, it's good to know vacationers can improve the likelihood of a safe and stress-free trip with a little planning. Before leaving, paying attention to relevant insurance and safety issues can make all the difference in the world."

Ask Your Agent to Review Your Insurance Coverage

With Americans logging more and more miles via car, the risk of an auto accident is very real. Fortunately, insurance coverage can provide important financial protection and peace of mind.

  • Start by getting some advice from a qualified professional. A local independent insurance agent can help you assess your insurance risks to help protect against the unexpected.
  • Consider trip interruption coverage, which reimburses certain expenses when you are involved in a covered accident far from home. Food, lodging, extra expenses to get home or to your vacation destination, and costs to transport your vehicle to a repair shop often are covered.
  • Be sure your insurance policy provides sufficient coverage in the event of an accident. Insurance policies provide coverage up to specified limits such as damage to your car, other property, and for personal injury.
  • Ensure you have insurance coverage for recreational vehicles you bring, including boats, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicles, and golf carts. These generally are not covered under a standard auto or homeowner’s policy.
  • Think carefully about getting an "umbrella" policy. These policies protect against legal judgments that exceed the protection offered by a standard auto policy. One million dollars in added coverage often can be purchased for a few hundred dollars, protecting you from the potential of great financial harm.

Make Sure Your Vehicle is Ready for the Trip

Long distance travel can put stress on vehicles and drivers alike. With preparation, drivers can make both more manageable.

  • Clean all vehicle lights, reflectors, and windows.
  • Check your tires, belts, hoses, engine oil and fluids.
  • Be sure your spare tire is ready for use and that you know how to operate your car jack.
  • For longer trips, especially in hot weather, arrange for a qualified mechanic to service your vehicle before the trip.
  • Consider a roadside service plan, so you are not stranded on the side of the road without help. These plans are available through some insurers, auto clubs, and car dealers.
  • It's always a good idea to bring tools, a flash light, reflective triangles, and road flares.

Pack Your Vehicle Carefully

For some, packing is an art. For others, it's a science. In either case, there are a number of important considerations that can make for a safer trip.

  • Begin to pack your vehicle a few days before your trip to be sure you have enough space.
  • Do not over pack. You will want to be sure you and others are comfortable and that the driver's view is not impaired in any way.
  • Secure items packed in the passenger compartment. A 25-pound suitcase can become a 1,612 pound projectile when you come to a sudden stop from 60 miles per hour. Use interior tie-down hooks to secure luggage and other large or heavy objects.
  • Use a pet barrier, harness, or crate, for your safety, the safety of others on the road, and for your pet's safety.
  • Store cargo on your vehicle’s roof only when necessary, and then, pack carefully. Excess cargo on roof racks and in cargo carriers can alter a vehicle's center of gravity and increase the rollover risk.

Commit to a Safe Trip

Thinking ahead and making a commitment to safe travel practices are among the best things you can do to ensure a successful trip.

  • Plan your trip and your route. You will want to know if there are any special events along the way that you will want to take in or avoid.
  • Know what Mother Nature may have planned. Avoiding bad weather can save time and trouble.
  • Be sure you are well rested. Get a god night's sleep before leaving and plan to stop for breaks every couple of hours. Try to stretch your legs or have a snack when you stop.
  • Share the driving with someone else, if possible. If you are driving alone, listen to the radio and open your window enough to get some fresh air.
  • Insist that everyone, including older children and adults, buckle their seat belts.
  • If you are traveling with younger children, be sure all car and booster seats are properly installed and secured. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children. The good news: child safety seats can reduce fatal injuries to toddlers and infants by 54 and 71 percent, respectively.


Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.