Henry Rollins wrote a book in 1994 entitled “Get In The Van,” which encourages young artists to put aside previous concerns and take a risk by starting their music career. However, he may have missed the part about when the van flips over… literally. It’s not uncommon for a vehicle accident to happen to bands on tour in fact, The Early November did it within their first two weeks of their first official tour – and look where they are now. So, the question arises – what are the best ways to prepare, avoid, and handle such situations?
1. Be awake
I am one of many who have decided at times that it’s better to drive through the night than to wait until morning. This can be tempting when it’s the last date of a tour and you want to get home, or you want a full day to spend in the next city, but it’s also dangerous. You can always fall asleep in the daytime as well, but it’s more natural to fall asleep when it’s dark outside. In all cases, I recommend having someone else awake with you, and personally I like to have a large energy drink to nurse while I’m driving. It keeps my body moving, which keeps my mind a bit more active.
2. Wear Your Seatbelts
You never know when another car could go out of control or when you could hit black ice or a take a turn too sharp. Wearing your seatbelt is extremely easy, but it’s also commonly overlooked. Most people don’t know that wearing a seatbelt decreases the risk of fatal injury for front-seat passengers by 45 percent! Don’t skip out on literally the easiest thing you could do to keep yourself safe. If you do choose to not wear a seatbelt, at least be aware of the seat belt laws for each state you tour in.
3. Make Sure Your Van is Up to Par
Van check ups are important, so take some extra time to look and make sure everything works properly. Are you equipped to go as many miles as you need to? Are all of the fluids filled and is your battery in good condition? When will you need to change your oil next? Check the latter specifically when you can, even if you think you don’t need to. Tour costs money – don’t make it cost more by doing something stupid that could end up trashing your vehicle.
4. For Pete’s Sake, Bring a Spare Tire
You wouldn’t believe how often tires blow out, even when you think they’re in proper shape. Just this last weekend (mid-late June, 2016), I was on tour with some folks filling in on bass and our trailer blew a tire. Luckily we had a spare. Likewise, I have friends who have blown more tires than that in the period of a couple days. Lesson here? Check your tires before going, but also bring a spare with air in it, as people often forget that and have problems because of it. You don’t want to be stuck missing a show because you weren’t prepared, and this happens way more than you might realize.
5. Be Prepared for the Worst
While it’s unfortunate, sometimes vans get totalled. If you do happen to get in a terrible wreck, be ready to act. In general, there’s a number of things you should do after being in any kind of car accident. If you and your passengers are OK, be ready to find a place to sleep, to work with insurance, policemen, and any other drivers involved. Know things about your vehicle such as the model and year, whose insurance it’s through if you’re borrowing it, and the last time it was serviced.
What’d I miss? Let me know on Twitter @Robolitious.