Yahoo Travel Editors—America is in the middle of road trip season, and we’re excited — so excited, in fact, that according to one report (see below), many of us are rushing to our cars without taking some simple safety precautions that could save us major problems on the freeway.
Celebrity handyman Chip Wade, host of HGTV’s Elbow Room, is great at fixing problems, but he’d rather not have to when he and his family go driving. Here he tells Yahoo Travel what emergency items he doesn’t get into his car without and how to avoid dangerous accidents on the road. These tips could save your life someday:
1. What is the number one safety mistake that Americans make?
According to the Liberty Mutual Insurance New Beginnings Report, nearly half of Americans don’t check that proper emergency items are in the car prior to hitting the road. This is so easy to fix and could save you a major headache in the event of a car emergency. Today you can even pick up a cell phone charger at a gas station.
2. What should be in our road safety emergency kits?
Having an emergency kit before heading on a road trip is essential. To begin, I always grab common household items to include before buying anything. I like to take along a small flashlight, water bottles for the family, alcohol swabs, Band-Aids, a cell phone charger, and other items commonly used in the home that are easy and accessible to bring along in the car. One item I find particularly useful to include is an old towel — in case you ever need to get underneath the car to check something, you have something to lay on. If you don’t already have the car-specific items in your trunk, some inexpensive items that you should also include are jumper cables and a multi-purpose tool you can use on many parts of your car.
To keep all of the items in one place, grab a small backpack or tote bag you already have in the house. Personally, I like to use a milk crate because it’s sturdy and keeps all of the items in one place with minimal shuffle.
3. What are the biggest dangers on the road?
I feel that the number one danger on the road are distracted drivers – whether it’s kids in the back seat or trying to reach for something that’s out of sight, taking your eyes of the road for even a split second can end in disaster.
Some simple but essential items to keep in your car. (Photo: Courtesy of Chip Wade)
4. How can we best prepare ourselves for those dangers?
Before you start any road trip it’s very important to make sure you have any necessary items you may need while driving in one spot and easy to reach. Make sure you have everything organized before you leave — that includes having the GPS loaded with your destination, your music already hooked up, and put down the phone. If your car has Bluetooth, use it. Don’t text and drive or try to make calls. Additionally, keep the children entertained during a road trip so they don’t distract you. I like to play my children’s favorite music or, before we head out, set them up with a tablet to play games on. If something comes up and you need to lend a hand to your kids or make a call, be sure to pull off the road into a safe spot.
5. What skills should we learn before setting out on a lengthy road trip?
I highly recommend learning a few car DIY maintenance silks before hitting the road. Even if you get your car inspected before you leave, you never know when something will come up. A tire check is a must. Learn how to check the air pressure in your tires and add air to any tires that are low. Most local gas stations have an air pressure gauge that you can use for under a dollar. Learning how to change a tire is another helpful skill.
In addition, make sure that you know how to manually add windshield wiper fluid and oil to your car’s full line and make sure your windshield wiper blades are still in good condition. I’d also recommend brushing up on how to change your wiper blades.
6. Anything else that you think is important?
In the event of an emergency, don’t be a part of this statistic. According to Liberty Mutual Insurance:
—60% of Americans forget windshield wiper fluid
—40% forget jumper cables
—39% forget a flashlight
—31% forget a cell phone charger
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