News and Updates

5 summer road trip safety tips

Planning a family road trip this summer? Road trips can be a fun, affordable and convenient travel option that provide you with the opportunity to make some unforgettable memories along the way.

These five tips can help to ensure that you and your loved ones arrive at your destination safely.

  1. Go for a tune-up

Before getting ready to hit the road, you should make sure that your car’s ready for some long-distance driving too. Book an appointment with a qualified mechanic a few weeks before your trip starts to check that your car’s tires, battery, belts, brakes, fluids and air conditioner are all in good working order.

If you plan on driving in a hot climate, or if you will be towing a heavy object such as a boat or trailer, you should ask your mechanic if you’ll need a motor oil with a higher viscosity.

  1. Gear up

Nobody wants to think about a roadside emergency derailing their family vacation, but it’s important to be prepared. An emergency situation can happen when you least expect it – even to the most diligent drivers.

Public Safety Canada recommends that you pack an emergency kit with the following essentials in your car1:

  • Non-perishable food items, such as energy bars

  • Water – plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes

  • Blanket

  • Extra clothing and shoes/boots

  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter

  • Candle in a deep can and matches

  • Wind-up flashlight

  • Whistle – in case you need to attract attention

  • Roadmaps

  • Copy of your emergency plan

It is also recommended that you keep the following items in your trunk:

  • Sand or salt, cat litter will also work

  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid

  • Tow rope

  • Jumper cables

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Warning light or road flares

  1. Safety-Proof Your Car

In addition to packing an emergency safety kit, there are a number of precautionary measures you can take when it comes to safety-proofing your car:

  • Secure loose items that can act as potential projectiles in the case of a collision, such as hard books or toys. Heavier items should be stowed low in the seat wells and bulky items, such as strollers or suitcases, should be tied down and secured in the trunk if possible.

  • Remember your sun safety. It’s still possible to get sunburned while in a closed vehicle, so you should ensure all passengers are wearing sunglasses and an appropriate SPF. You may even want to consider purchasing a sunshade for the backseat.

  • If travelling with young passengers, make sure that the child safety locks are activated on the back windows and doors. Secure unused seat belts that can pose a strangulation hazard by buckling them in and pulling them out from the shoulder until you hear them lock. You should also check the backseat for potential choking hazards, such as small buttons that can be pulled off seats, and hazardous materials, such as washer fluid.

  • Double check that your car seats or booster seats are installed correctly. If you’re unsure, you can refer to this guide from Transport Canada.

  1. Don’t drive distracted

According to CAA, 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes had some form of driver inattention as contributing factors.2 In fact, police across Canada say that distracted driving causes more collisions per year than impaired drivers.3

To make sure your attention is fully focused on the road ahead, you should take the following precautions to avoid distractions:

  • Get a good night’s sleep

  • Allow plenty of travel time

  • Set your GPS/review maps before driving

  • Prepare children with everything they need before setting off

  • Sit up straight and keep two hands on the wheel

  • Ignore phone calls – even hands-free calls when possible

  • Do not check or respond to text messages, emails, etc. Keeping your mobile phone in the backseat of the car can help you avoid the temptation to send a stoplight text.

  • Avoid eating or drinking while behind the wheel

If this seems like a lot to manage on a long road trip you should consider breaking up your driving time with a number of brief stops – during which you can stretch your legs, grab something to eat, check your notifications and return calls.

  1. Review your insurance policy

Part of every road trip plan should involve taking the time to assess and review your auto insurance policy. Do you have coverage if your car’s engine dies and you have to be towed to an out-of-province mechanic? What about if your car gets broken into, and all of your valuables are taken?

Not all road trips can go as expected, so it’s important to review your insurance policy ahead of time and know what you’re covered for. Then you can drive the open road with the peace of mind that you and your loved ones are protected.

If you have any questions about your existing auto policy coverage, or want to know more about recommended coverage for long distance driving, contact your OTIP insurance broker at 1-888-892-4935

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