Safety Tips for Your Florida Road Trip

Brother and sister sharing digital tablet in back seat of car
••• Getty Images/Sam Edwards

The luggage is loaded, the gas tank is full, the cooler is full of drinks and snacks and you've made sure your child's favorite blankie is safely packed away. You check the house "just one more time" and the front door is locked as everyone scrambles to the car. Planning a family vacation that involves driving requires more than loading the luggage and having the right map. Attention to a few details before you set off can help ensure you reach your destination safely.

Make Sure Your Vehicle Is in Tip Top Shape

To avoid an unexpected roadside emergency, invest in preventative automobile maintenance. Get your automobile ready for summer vacation travel. In case of an emergency, it is a good idea to have a kit for your vehicle that includes:

  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Hand tools
  • Flashlight with new batteries
  • Jack
  • Gloves
  • Cellular phone charger

Consider a Rental

Another consideration would be renting a vehicle for your vacation. The family sedan is many times not suited for long trips and renting is often cheaper than the cost of the wear and tear on your own vehicle. Look for coupons offering a free class upgrade giving you a larger vehicle for the same price. Reservations should be made well in advance of your trip to ensure you get the vehicle you want and do shop around for the best deal. 

Travel Safely With Pets

If you are taking your pets in the car with you, these tips are sure to be helpful.

Be sure they have the proper ID, their shots are up to date, and don't forget their special needs when packing travel supplies. Most importantly, leaving your pet in a parked car can be a deadly mistake -- especially in the Florida heat.

Know Local Motor Vehicle Laws

Knowing the rules of the road and following them is another detail of safe summer driving.

Know the roads you will be traveling and the laws governing the State. Drive the speed limit, refrain from making unsafe lane changes and tailgating other motor vehicles, remember to use turn signals and headlights when required. Stay away from aggressive or erratic drivers -- don't get personally involved or challenge them. Some particular Florida laws you to know are:

  • Move over: Florida law requires you to move over one lane (if you can safely do so) or drop your speed to 20 mph less than the speed limit for stopped emergency vehicles, wreckers, sanitation or utility service vehicles.
  • Child restraint: Florida law requires children under age 5 to be properly secured in a federally approved child restraint system and children 3 or younger must use a separate car seat or the vehicles built-in car seat.

Be Aware of the Weather

Driving in Florida during the summer offers some unique challenges. The intense heat and our regular summer rainstorms are road hazards that cause many breakdowns and accidents. SafeCar.gov offers advice and tips to help motorists and their automobiles avoid trouble.

Taking the time to handle these details will help get your Florida vacation off to a good start. Above all, remember to relax, keep your cool, and take it easy -- that's what vacations are for.