Road trips are an American pastime. Just think of all of the movies we have featuring families packing up and shipping out to see the beauty of our open plains, mountain peaks, and desert valleys. But Murphy ’s law tends to take hold and remind us that something will always go wrong, even in the best conditions.

Are conditions at their best this summer? Probably not. A recent AAA study shows that 70 percent of drivers are worried about road conditions for their trip, with 36 percent of drivers worried about unsafe roads and bridges.

And they’re not without reason; U.S. drivers have paid approximately $15 billion in vehicle repairs caused by damaged roads according to AAA. This is damaged caused from potholes, large cracks, road debris and more. Added to that, the government estimates an additional $170 billion per year is needed to improve our crumbling roads and bridges.

The study also states that 48 percent of drivers are worried about traffic congestion, which is not only wasting their time, but their fuel as well. The 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard shows drivers spent an extra 7 billion hours and 3 billion gallons of fuel on traffic delays.  Even with gas prices at their lowest, that’s over $6 trillion wasted in fuel consumption and even more green-house gases released into the atmosphere.

So how can you stay safe and spend less if you’re among the millions of Americans looking to travel this summer?

  • Don’t drive during peak times. If you can avoid leaving on busy days or traveling during peak times during the day, your car can hit the optimum fuel economy easier and you won’t waste time and money sitting in traffic.
  • Check road conditions before you go. Most maps online will show you where roads are under construction, closed or full of traffic. You can also use apps like Waze to keep an eye on road conditions – although we recommend having someone in the passenger seat checking the app.
  • Practice safe driving. Distracted drivers, or ones who are speeding excessively, are more likely to get into an accident or hit something in the middle of the road. If you’re following the speed limit, keeping a safe distance, and paying attention, you’re more likely to avoid potholes, obstructions in the road, and will increase your fuel economy.

What other tips do you have for staying safe while you’re driving? Share them with us below!