AAA Road Safety Tips

Road Safety Tips

Tips to keep you safer on the road:

  • Keep your doors locked, safety belts buckled and children safe and secure in properly installed safety seats.
  • Don’t let your gas tank fall below 1/3 tank.
  • Stay on main roads and highways – and don’t forget your AAA mapping tools.
  • Pack a flashlight, blanket and first-aid kit. In cold climates, pack extra warm clothing.
  • If you are going on a long trip, pack an emergency ration kit of water and nonperishable food items such as fruit or granola bars.
  • When stopping for breaks, never let children go to the restroom alone. Always lock vehicle doors, even if you’ll only be gone for a few minutes.
  • Carry a mobile phone in case of emergencies.
  • Do not stop to help a disabled vehicle. Instead, call for help from your mobile phone or a pay phone.
  • If stopping during nighttime travel, choose a well-lighted, populated facility. Park where your vehicle can be seen.
  • If approached by someone while your vehicle is stopped, keep your doors locked and only roll your window down enough to hear what the person is saying.

Tips to keep you safe if your vehicle breaks down:

  • Move your vehicle off the road safely away from traffic.
  • Stay inside your vehicle and make sure all passengers stay inside, too. Keep doors locked and only roll down the window enough to ask any passersby to call police.
  • If you can’t move your vehicle off the road, ask all passengers to exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so, and stand away from traffic.
  • If you must walk to a phone, keep your group together.
  • Warn other drivers by raising the vehicle’s hood, tying a white cloth to a door handle or using reflective triangles or flares. Warning devices should be placed far enough away from the vehicle to give oncoming traffic time to react. A good rule of thumb: three devices at 100, 50 and 25 yards from the vehicle – or 300, 200 or 100 feet.

AAA produces a variety of brochures and guides on highway safety, car care and what to do if you break down. Contact your local AAA club for copies of What to Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down, The AAA Guide to Trouble-Free Travel and others.

Road debris – auto parts, tire remnants, cargo and other materials – is estimated to cause more than 25,000 crashes per year in North America. Many of these crashes can be prevented if truck drivers and motorists secure their loads properly and report debris they see on roads.

AAA offers the following tips to help motorists avoid road debris and other driving dangers:

  • Secure your cargo adequately before you hit the road, and check it every time you stop.
  • Report unsafe vehicles, unsecured loads and road debris.
  • Brush up on defensive driving, especially around trucks in the event of wheel and tire separations. (Read more safety tips for driving around commercial trucks.)
  • Maintain a safe following distance. At highway speeds, this means allowing at least 4-5 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Give yourself extra distance if following a vehicle carrying large or difficult-to-secure cargo.
  • Focus your vision farther down the road. Scan at least 12 seconds ahead, so you have time to react to changing highway conditions, including road debris. Sudden movements by cars ahead of you often indicate a hazard in the road.
  • Sometimes it’s safer to run over debris rather than try to avoid it. Striking minor road debris can be far less dangerous than veering into oncoming traffic or swerving off the pavement. Knowing where the cars around you are will help you make the right decision.

Many state police agencies have special phone numbers to report dangerous road conditions such as road debris and vehicles that appear ready to lose their loads.