While summer can be the perfect time for a road trip, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes travel safety even more critical. With businesses limiting capacity, varied and shifting Public Health guidelines across Canada, and COVID variants spreading, planning to stay safe on the road while avoiding COVID exposure is essential.

Whether you’re making a day trip a couple of hours away or travelling to a different province, we have 11 tips to keep you and your most precious cargo safe while travelling.

Car check. With the increased unpredictability of COVID-19, travellers may wish to take extra caution to avoid preventable car emergencies. Whether you’re going on a day trip or plan to stay somewhere overnight, schedule a routine inspection before your trip to check essential vehicle components, including the brakes, tires, battery, ignition, wiper blades and lights. Before putting your car in drive, make sure to:

  • Adjust your climate controls and seat
  • Check your outside mirrors; adjust the view to just outside of the bodywork of your vehicle
  • Make sure all exterior lights are working properly
  • Check your tire pressure; regularly recheck to avoid flats or blowouts
  • Clean the windows; dirty windows can reduce visibility by up to 90 percent
  • Wear your seatbelt

Stock your emergency kit with COVID essentials. In addition to keeping an emergency kit with first-aid supplies at hand, consider bringing:

  • Road flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Drinking water
  • Phone charger
  • Extra PPE (masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes)

Familiarize yourself with Public Health guidelines. Particularly if you’re planning to travel out of the province, it’s a good idea to be aware of the Public Health guidelines around social distancing, masking, and other considerations, not only at your destination but also in places you’ll pass through along the way. Familiarize yourself with the relevant Public Health expectations before leaving to avoid surprises and ensure a safe, comfortable trip.

Plan accommodations and food ahead of time. With hotels and restaurants operating at a limited capacity to enable social distancing, booking accommodations and planning meals may require more advance notice. Additionally, travellers may have varying comfort levels when eating indoors or staying at a busy hotel or campsite. Before taking your trip, plan and make reservations for the public places you’ll be entering for greater safety.

Drive sober. Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs—driving under the influence is unsafe and illegal. Being responsible and driving sober is one of the best ways to keep the roads safe on your road trip, no matter the distance you’re travelling.

Stay focused. All provinces have laws against distracted driving. Texting behind the wheel is the most common and lethal form of distracted driving, but other distractions include eating, playing with the radio, searching for directions, and talking. Avoid multitasking while behind the wheel by:

  • Putting all electronics away
  • Getting directions ahead of time
  • Placing necessary items, such as toll and parking passes, in an easy-to-reach place

Keep your body rested. Getting enough sleep is the ideal solution for tired driving, but it’s also essential to keep energized on the road with healthy snacks like fruit and nuts, and short naps if needed. Additionally, stocking your car with snacks can help you avoid additional exposure to public places such as convenience stores or grocery stores while on the road.

If you feel any warning signs of driver fatigue, pull over to avoid endangering yourself or other motorists. Potential signs could include:

  • Unintentionally slowing down
  • Forgetting the last few kilometres that you drove
  • Drifting from your lane

Watch the weather. Inclement weather can cause accidents, so stay informed on the forecasted weather in the places you plan to travel:

  • Visit gc.ca, or download their app, for essential updates and warnings on conditions for all Canadian locations
  • Slow your speed, especially in dangerous weather conditions
  • Keep a safe following distance of three to four seconds (or longer in bad weather and at night) between you and the car in front of you, to allow enough time for you to brake to a stop if necessary

Watch out for wildlife. Avoid collisions with wildlife, especially around dusk and dawn, by:

  • Keeping your eyes on the road
  • Driving slowly, especially in unfamiliar areas
  • Keeping the vehicle under control by tapping the brakes to avoid swerving
  • Honking your horn to scare animals off your path 

Avoid night driving. The dark makes it more difficult to see hazards on the road ahead, and the lack of scenery can be hypnotizing, making you even more tired. Night driving tips include:

  • Turn your headlights on one hour before sunset until one hour after sunrise to make you more visible to others
  • Use the “day/night” feature to reduce glare from your rear-view mirror
  • Avoid looking directly at oncoming headlights, looking toward the right side of the road instead
  • Keep your lights on low beams when following other vehicles
  • If you have vehicle trouble, pull off the road as far to the right as possible and set up reflector triangles near your vehicle and up to 91 metres behind it. Turn on your flashers and dome light and call for assistance.

Travelling with a pet? Travelling can be highly stressful for pets no matter the length of your trip, so prepare in advance to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for them and your family:

  • Keep your pets safe in a well-ventilated and secured crate or carrier that’s large enough for your animal to comfortably lie down, turn around, and stand in its natural position
  • On long trips, provide food, water, and regular stops for rests or get out and walk around
  • Make sure your pet has a microchip and wears a tag for easy identification; consider a travel tag for longer trips

With extra organization, you can help ensure that you and your family get to your destination safely.

Are you planning a road trip? Ensure you’re protected with the car insurance coverage that’s right for you. Contact a Cowan broker today for a free, no-obligation quote.