Travel smart, arrive alive

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Marcus Higa
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Safety Office
Hundreds of Sabers take needed and well-deserved vacations each summer. Some vacation alone, some with their friends and others with their families.

Long distance road trips can be a fun and exciting way to explore Europe and a great way to spend quality time with family, or to simply reflect on your thoughts if you travel alone. If a summer vacation is in your near future, equip yourself with some skills and knowledge to experience an enjoyable retreat.

Be prepared
· At least two weeks before you begin your trip make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. This will give you time to prepare your vehicle and make any necessary repairs for the trip ahead. Dealing with mechanical problems when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory can be extremely flustering and postpone your arrival.
· Pack an emergency kit that includes water, food, a first aid kit, jumper cables, warning triangles, a flashlight, equipment to change a tire and one or more quarts of oil. Don't forget the forever-in-fashion reflective belt or vest.

Catch plenty of zzzz's
· Try to get about eight or more hours of sleep before traveling. Being well rested and alert prior to beginning your trip is one of the most important factors in safe driving.
· The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates conservatively that, during an average year, "drowsy driving" causes 100,000 automobile wrecks, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities.

Be willing to stop
· At least every two hours, get out of your vehicle, walk around, stretch out and move your body until you feel completely awake.
· If you are feeling tired, take a short nap in a safe place.

Keep it cool
· Cooler air keeps you alert.
· Keep your eyes moving and check your mirrors and gauges often.

Avoid eating heavy foods
· Fast food in your stomach will give you a bloated and heavy feeling. Heavy and greasy food such as double cheeseburgers, french fries, schnitzels, pizza, fried chicken and biscuits, will contribute to the desire to take a nap or, what we in Safety call, "FILOC," food induced loss of consciousness.
· It is better to eat light food like salads, soup and fruits during the trip to keep your head clear.
· Drink juice or sports drinks. Drivers should not rely on highly caffeinated beverages to keep them awake while driving.

The "Golden Rule"
· Do not overdo it -- safety should always come first. There is no point in endangering yourself or others just because you want to arrive at your destination in record time.

Remember, get adequate rest, ensure your equipment is up to the task, eat light prior to and during your commute, and don't rely heavily on caffeine. Using these tips can help ensure a safe and gratifying holiday experience.