With around six million car accidents occurring every year in the United States, it’s crucial to understand how to stay safe on the road. Whether you want to travel cross-country or commute to work, these safety tips can help you stay protected and have an enjoyable time on the road.

1. Ensure Your Vehicle Is Prepared

Before hitting the road, make sure your car is in good condition and ready for travel. Check that your brakes, tires, signals, headlights, and other components are in working order, and attend to anything that needs to be fixed or replaced. Unfortunately, as many as one in three drivers suffer a car breakdown yearly — that’s approximately 69 million annual breakdowns.

To help prepare your car for travel, consider checking your tire pressure and ensure your tread levels are good. If you have an oil leak or other issue, take note and address it as soon as possible so that it doesn’t cause further damage to your vehicle down the line. Visiting a car mechanic before you travel is a great way to prepare your car for the road.

2. Follow Road Rules

Following all traffic laws is essential for road safety, particularly when driving through unfamiliar places. Obey speed limits, turn signals, and other road signs, and always remain aware of your surroundings. Also, be courteous when driving near other motorists and cyclists. Honking can startle or anger other drivers, so use it only when necessary to alert others of your presence.

If you’re unsure about the state or local laws, research them online or ask your rental car company for more information. Doing so will help make your trip as safe and pleasant as possible.

3. Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is a great way to stay safe on the road. It involves being aware of potential hazards and anticipating the actions of other drivers. When driving defensively, you should keep your eyes open and focus on the road. Avoid distractions, such as cell phones, and be aware of your surroundings.

Maintain a safe distance from other cars, and don’t tailgate. If you notice someone driving erratically, give them plenty of space to avoid potential accidents or conflicts. While you might be a safe driver, always remain aware that the other drivers on the road may not be as alert.

4. Be Prepared for Emergencies

It’s essential to always have an emergency kit in your car. This should include items such as flares, flashlights, first-aid supplies, a basic tool kit, and an extra cell phone charger. Additionally, having a map of the area can be very useful in case you get lost or need to find alternative routes for your trip.

It’s also important to have access to roadside assistance in case your car breaks down. Most rental companies offer roadside assistance, and many auto insurance policies provide this service. Make sure you know what you have access to if something goes wrong. If you don’t have insurance, it’s wisest to purchase it if you plan on taking any long trips. Not having insurance is illegal in most states and can result in hefty fines.

5. Prepare For the Weather

When tuning up your car, prepare for the weather ahead when you travel. Around 21% of car accidents in the nation are at least partly due to weather conditions. Consider the weather you’ll be driving in and whether your car is equipped to handle these conditions.

Check your car regularly for problems, such as worn-out tires or brake pads. These problems can be especially problematic in harsh weather conditions. If you find issues, replace them immediately or have a mechanic check them out before departure. Additionally, make sure your vehicle has the appropriate fluids to withstand cold temperatures. Antifreeze and washer fluid are especially important in cold climates.

Following these safety tips can help ensure that your journey is a safe one. Take the time to prepare your car, practice defensive driving, and be prepared for emergencies or adverse weather conditions. Doing so will help keep you safe on the road.