Planning a Roadtrip? 5 Tips for Rental Car Safety

Renting a car this weekend? Whether you’re heading off for a last-minute getaway or you’ve been planning a trip for months, these simple tips can help you stay safe and enjoy your journey.

1. Prevent Distracted Driving

Safe driving and avoiding distractions are important whenever you’re behind the wheel, and especially if you’ve rented a car to drive in an unfamiliar area. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, over 3,400 people were killed, and 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Distractions may include texting, talking on a phone or anything that causes you to lose focus on the road ahead and driving conditions.

Help reduce the chances of an accident in your rental car by staying focused and alert — make necessary adjustments to your vehicle before you start driving, tell your other passengers to keep noise levels down and don’t respond to calls or text messages while you’re behind the wheel. Learn more about preventing distracted driving with these tips.

2. Plan Your Routes Ahead of Time

You might want your roadtrip to feel like a spontaneous adventure, but it’s good to have an idea of where you’re going, where you’re staying, what sites you plan to visit, restaurants and rest stops along the way so you can plan your driving route carefully. Online services like Roadtrippers can help you plan ahead, so you can avoid getting lost in an unsafe area, or extra charges for added mileage on your rental car.

3. Let Map Apps Guide You While Driving

Even if you plan your driving routes ahead of your trip, navigation apps like Waze or Google Maps can help keep you on track with voice directions while you’re driving. If you take a wrong turn, most apps will recalculate and help get you back on track, so you don’t have to worry about looking at a map or having your copilot read off directions the whole time. Another bonus, these apps often include navigation adjustments based on real-time construction, road closures or accidents.

Pick up a car mount for your cell phone that attaches to your vehicle’s air vent, like this one, before your trip so you can stay hands-free while driving.

4. Research Local By-Laws Before You Go

Nothing disrupts a long-anticipated trip like a traffic ticket. Before heading out, research the local laws and regulations, which may differ by state. For example, can you turn right at a red light? Are U-turns legal? And where is it okay to park? Know the rules ahead of time to stay safe and avoid aggravation when you’re driving in a new place.

5. Make Sure You Have Rental Car Insurance

For an extra layer of protection and peace-of-mind, make sure your car insurance policy covers rental cars. If you have an accident, the costs to the rental agency are covered. These costs could include:

  • Loss of use: The agency’s lost daily income because the car couldn’t be used
  • Reasonable fees and charges: Like storage or other costs charged by the rental company
  • Market value loss of the damaged rental car: In states other than North Carolina, there may be a charge for the loss of value of the car even after it’s been repaired.

Planning ahead for a roadtrip doesn’t have to be complicated. Make sure your rental car experience is a safe one, so you can save yourself time, money and stress.