Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Protect Your Family at Rest Area Stops: Safety Tips

Every summer our family spends hours traveling up and down the U.S. interstate highways. 

 Though not as quick as flying, the road trip experience can be lots of fun and a good way to bond with family and friends.  Our trip usually involves a few stops along the way at interstate rest areas. These rest areas serve a great purpose as they are much quicker to get off and get back onto the highway in comparison to exiting off at gas stations or restaurants. Our family even stops off at a scenic rest area every year to have a picnic lunch before moving on to our destination. 
Though they are convenient, rest areas stops should be exercised with great caution as these locations can also serve those engaged in criminal activity.
Here are a few common sense tips to remember when deciding to pull off at a rest area.

Stick to Well Lit Areas

If nature calls and you need to stop off at rest area in late evening or early morning, consider using a rest area that is well illuminated. If the rest area is poorly lit with no cars or even one car or truck, I will proceed on to the next rest area or use a gas station or fast food establishment.

Avoid surrounding areas of Rest Areas  

If your stop off at the rest area is for the purpose of stretching or using the toilets, then stick to that purpose. Avoid having anyone in your group run off into nearby woods or any places that would allow strangers to hide. Also avoid parking next to large vehicles such as recreational vehicles or trucks that would permit a stranger in one of those vehicles to snatch and grab one of your passengers.

Buddy System when using Rest Area Restrooms

If the rest area has a family restroom offered, then it is advisable that it used otherwise use the buddy system. Parents should take children with them. Even if a child does not need to use the facility, he or she should accompany parent. No one should be left alone in the parked car.

Avoid Desolate Rest Areas

If the stop off reveals a very empty parking lot, then consider moving on.  Just because there are no vehicles spotted at the rest area does not necessarily ensure safety. Actually the threat can be just as great if not greater because predators will like his or her odds of getting away with a crime as chances for witnesses or police are minimal at a vacant rest stop.

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