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Safety Tips for Driving in Tourist Destinations

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Posted on May 13, 2023

Whether it’s a romantic weekend getaway for two or a family road trip vacation, there’s nothing like the freedom of leaving work and school behind and heading for a beachy coastal town or an iconic theme park. While visiting new locations expands horizons and strengthens family bonds, traveling also means driving in unfamiliar areas, often with congested roadways and unfamiliar state laws. What’s more, popular vacation destinations typically see increased numbers of intoxicated and distracted drivers on the roads. So how do you keep a trip to a dream destination from becoming a nightmare of property damage and personal injury claims? According to the CDC, car accidents are a leading cause of death for travelers, and cause many thousands of injuries each year.

Avoid Distracted Driving

While GPS devices built right into smartphones or your car’s dashboard have saved the hassle of traveling with awkwardly folded paper maps and hand-written directions, an unfortunate number of accidents are caused each year by distracted drivers using their smartphones or other devices to find directions.

No matter how tempting it might be to use your device to find your way around a new city, select a playlist, or answer a text message when you’re traveling, you should always pull into a safe location and park before using your phone, especially in an unfamiliar area. According to the Department of Transportation, when traveling at 55mph, only 5 seconds of looking at a device takes your eyes off the road for the length of a football field.

Don’t Drink and Drive

While this may seem like a no-brainer, you should avoid the temptation to drink alcoholic beverages if you’re going to get behind the wheel, even when you’re enjoying a vacation. Statistics show that drunk driving accidents and DUI arrests are significantly higher in tourist destinations compared to average community roads and highways.

It’s also more important than ever to remain vigilant for other intoxicated drivers who could be on the roadways in tourist destination areas.

Learn the Local Traffic Laws

While some things hold true in all states, such as driving on the right side of the road and stopping at red lights and stop signs, traffic laws are not mandated by the federal government, but vary from state to state. For instance, before visiting the Jersey Shore, you should know that left turns are prohibited on high-volume roadways in New Jersey; instead, you’ll have to wait until you find a “jug handle” to make your turn. In Florida, it’s legal to use hazard lights when driving in heavy rain on major highways. And did you know that speed limits in Montana can be as high as 80mph?

Don’t Rent Unfamiliar Vehicles

While you may have always dreamed of traveling through Malibu in a muscle car with a manual transmission or riding a Harley during Bike Week in Daytona Beach, it’s important to stick with driving what you know, even on vacation. If you’ve never driven a car with a stick shift or haven’t been on a motorcycle since the Honda you had in high school, a tourist destination isn’t the time or place to learn new driving skills.

Vacations are For Relaxing

Finally, remember that while you might be de-stressing while enjoying a beach town in Massachusetts or taking in the theme parks in Orlando, other people within these tourist destinations still live, work, and go to school. It’s important to be respectful of local traffic, avoid rush hour driving when possible, and be vigilant when driving through unfamiliar communities. No one wants their long-awaited vacation to end in an emergency room or in a lawsuit. Remember, vacations are for relaxing, so drive like you have all day—you do!