Autumn is the perfect season for road trips. Whether you’re heading out with friends or the whole family, road trips are a great fall vibe. With the changing hue of the leaves, cooler temperatures, and harvest season fun, there’s plenty to see driving across the US. 

However, with any travel method, safety should always be at the top of your checklist. Car safety is important and there are steps you can take to ensure your family is safe while driving. If you’re headed cross country or just a few hours away, follow these tips for fall road trip safety with your family.

Encourage Seat Belt Usage 

One of the best decisions to make when going on a family road trip is encouraging seat belt usage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts saved the lives of 14,995 Americans in 2017. While this is the most recent data available, seat belts have been proven to reduce the chances of life-threatening injuries compared to passengers not wearing one. 

Encouraging seat belt use is key to protecting your family while driving around new destinations this fall. Not only is it safe, but it also sets the expectation of buckling up when riding in any car for younger kids. Be sure to require belt use for all passengers. For infants and toddlers, use a child safety car seat.

Make A Vehicle Safety Checklist

In addition to performing regular maintenance on your car, like oil changes, make a vehicle safety checklist. This handy to-do list can include whatever you like as you prepare to hit the road. However, there are a few key safety checks to do before putting the kids in the car. 

If you’re not using a rental car, be sure to do a safety check on your vehicle. Some things to check before a road trip include the car’s brake system, steering and suspension, tire durability, and exhaust system. Most of these can be checked at a local mechanic shop. It also wouldn’t hurt to keep a spare tire, a jack, and other tools in your truck in case of emergency.

Learn Proper Car Seat Installation

According to new data from AAA and Chicco USA, more than 3.9 million children ages 10 and younger were involved in car crashes between 2017 and 2021. Of those involved, 527,000 were injured and 2,789 died as a result of their injuries. For this reason, it is vital proper car seats are installed for young children on road trips. Before hitting the road, take some time to learn proper car seat installation for infant and toddler passengers. 

Incorporate Rest Stops

Rest is important when taking family road trips, especially if you’re traveling long distances. Many millennial and Gen-Z travelers are determined to push through long drives, opting to miss sleep to reach their destination faster. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. Driver fatigue is dangerous and can result in an unexpected crash. As a rule of thumb, try to take a driving break every two hours. 

Keep An Emergency Kit In The Car

Road trips can take unexpected turns. Weather, car problems, low gas, and hungry tummies with few food options can all cause a bit of frustration when driving with the family. Keep an emergency kit in the car for unexpected happenstance. The kit can include everything from snacks and water to emergency flares, blankets, and a first aid kit. Evaluate your family’s needs to determine what you should bring along.