Renting a car has become much more painful than it used to be. The pandemic, lack of staff, and supply-chain issues have created the perfect storm, resulting in longer lines, less inventory, higher prices, and headaches. While we can’t necessarily do anything about these circumstances, we can take precautions to ensure we don’t have even more headaches of our own making.
Would you know what to do if you get into an accident, or your car breaks down or gets stolen? Fortunately, safetravelRX, an app designed to keep you safe while traveling, has some tips to ensure your rental car experience goes as smoothly as possible.
Before you get in the car:
Ask the clerk what the odometer reading is. If it’s more than 25,000 miles, ask for a different car. In the industry, that's a “senior” car, and they are more likely to break down. Unfortunately, many rental companies are experiencing shortages, so you may not always have the option of getting another car, but it’s worth asking.
Make sure you know the rules of the road where you are traveling, especially if you are in a foreign country. Can you make a right turn at a red light? What is the protocol when you hear a siren?
Don't rent a flashy car. They're an invitation for theft. And not to put too much of a damper on your fun, but be cautious about convertibles as well. Congested traffic or stoplights are a perfect opportunity for a thief to snatch and grab.
Check to ensure your rental doesn't have a daily mileage limit.
Once you find your rental car in the lot:
Look in the trunk. Is there a jack, lug wrench, and spare tire? Is the spare tire properly inflated?
If anything is on the exterior or interior of the car that identifies it as a rental, remove it.
Check for scratches or dents on the exterior, photograph them in advance, and share them with the rental agent before leaving the lot.
Once inside the car:
Ensure you know how to use the main controls such as locks, headlights, windshield wipers, hazards, horn, etc. It may sound silly, but the last thing you need is to fumble for the headlight switch when it's starting to get dark, and you're in an unfamiliar place.
Don't synchronize your phone with the car's dashboard because the system can store personal information from your phone, including your number, recent calls, texts, and voicemails.
Once you are on the road:
·If you’re driving in a country (including the UK, Ireland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Africa, and the Caribbean) that operates on the left, be extra cautious. Not only are lane decisions and turns tricky, but the turn signal is on the right of the steering wheel, and windshield wiper controls are on the left—the opposite of what you may be used to.
·Don’t go above or substantially below the speed limit. The last thing you want to do is attract attention and give the police a reason to pull you over, especially in countries where the authorities can be less than scrupulous.
If you have an accident:
Contact the police. You'll need an official police report when filing an insurance claim. Take a photo, keep a copy of the document, and make a video recording of the accident.
·Exchange information with anyone else involved in the accident.
·If you are injured, simply push the emergency button on your safetravelRX app to call the equivalent of 911 in any country you’re traveling. It will automatically pinpoint your location and contact the appropriate first responders so you can get the help you need.
·Take notes while the incident is fresh in your mind. Record all details you can remember. It's easy to get confused or forget details and chronology if you wait.
·Then, call the car rental company. They will explain the following steps, varying depending on whether you bought insurance from them. (If you haven't, contact your insurance company or credit card company, depending on your coverage at the point of sale.) The rental company will also work on getting you a replacement car.
If your rental car gets towed, get the name and number of the towing company. And make sure you remove all personal belongings from the rental car before getting towed.
Some last words of advice:
Always roll up the windows when you leave the car, and lock the car even when you’re inside.
When you’re in a parking lot, don’t take valuables from inside the car and move them to the trunk. That's an invitation for a thief. Do that sorting before you leave the rental car lot.
Don’t leave valuables in the car, thinking that if you cover them, it will be fine. If you have something under a blanket or a towel, it’s obvious you’re hiding something, and a thief will assume that it’s worth breaking into the car to retrieve it.
Don't leave charger cords in ports because that signals that something valuable has been plugged in and still may be in the car.
If there's broken glass on the ground near where you've parked, you may want to park elsewhere. Broken glass is often a sign of a smash and grab or some other sign of trouble.
Don't try to return the car to a different location from the one where you rented it unless you get advance approval and confirmation there are no additional fees involved.
·Also, make sure you know the hours of the return location as car rental agencies in other countries may not be open on the weekends, or they may close early.
The bottom line is that you can't prepare for every scenario, but certain best practices will give you a much higher likelihood of experiencing a safe and enjoyable trip! And there is always public transportation, ride-sharing services, taxis, etc., if you prefer to leave the driving to someone else!
To learn more about you can enjoy a safe travel experience with safetravelRX, click here.
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