As I push my bicycle through Leisure World on Wednesday mornings I'm aware that each week the number of trash cans on the curb dwindle. Beautiful birds that recently lined our lakes have headed for northern climates. It appears Leisure World's human snowbirds are doing the same. Whether you qualify as snowbird or choose year round residency with intermittent escapes from the heat, it's probable a trip is in your future.
Some years ago, when folks traveled to events hosted by my business, we created a PR piece that included tips for safe driving or air travel to the venue. Here are the ten tips that can make you safe vs. sorry on the road
- It goes without saying that you should be assured your car is in peak condition before you leave. This includes tires are accurately inflated and all fluids are at proper levels.
- Whenever possible don't travel alone. A companion will help you stay alert and they can shorten a trip's length when you can trade driving and nap time.
- Get a weather report that covers your route to assure you can avoid inclement weather. (http://www.weather.com makes predictions ten days out).
- Do your best to begin a long drive after a good night's sleep and a light meal. Although there's a tendency to rely on caffeinated beverages to keep a driver alert, it doesn't take the place of rest.
- Plan breaks from driving by pre-planning stops along the way. Whether your stop is for a meal or snack, or a rest stop or to check out a well-known site or attraction it will assure you periodically get some fresh air and stretch your legs.
- Did you know the least safe place to pull your car off the highway is the shoulder of the road? If you need to stop, look for a side road or a place where you can park completely off the road
- Don't use a cell phone while you're driving. It's against the law (with hefty fines) in some states. In others it's OK if you have a hands free system. Nevertheless, a University of Utah study revealed cell phone use (whether hand-held or hands-free) while driving is as risky as driving drunk. And, it's the conversation itself, not the phone, that's the distraction. Save phone calls for those breaks mentioned above.
- When you stop (for any reason) keep valuables with you. This includes computers, jewelry and important papers. If you can't carry everything, always park where you can see your car. This is especially true for restaurant stops. During overnight stops, despite the hassle of hauling items in and out of the car, it's better to put forth effort to keep items you don't want to lose close by your side.
- Save money by carrying snacks and drinks with you rather than buying them at gas stations or convenience stores. Napkins, hand wipes, antibacterial cloths or gels and a small cooler gives you flexibility when you want a break. On the other hand NEVER eat while driving. Your ego may think you can handle eating and driving, but your brain cannot.
Add a first-aid kit, water, flashlight, pillow and blanket to your storage area. Consider keeping a separate purse for the small change tolls require. Double check that your spare tire is in good shape and all seat belts are working properly.
It goes without saying, but those of us who stay at Leisure World may hate to see you go, but we want you to get to your destination safely (and return safely in the fall).