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Summer Safely: Keeping Safety Top Of Mind While Road Tripping To The Happiest Place On Earth

SOUTH OGDEN, Utah – Many Utah families are headed to California now that the Happiest Place on Earth is open again.

Your summer road trip may include watching Disney movies or playing “Name-that-tune,” but no matter where you travel it should also include safety. One Utah family shares the best way they know how to Summer Safely.

The Dunyon family has a deep love for Disney magic. After returning to the park for the first time in more than a year, the attractions and treats were even sweeter.

“It was emotional. It was really special!” Jen Dunyon said.

“It felt so amazing! Especially taking so long off with COVID. It was so fun!” 15-year-old Jane Dunyon and 10-year-old Sophia Dunyon both shared.

They rode the Guardians of the Galaxy ride several times in a row and raved about the food.

“The churros are unbeatable!” Jane said with a smile.

Sophia Dunyon says one of the best parts about being back in the Disneyland park is the food, especially the churros. Sophia Dunyon says one of the best parts about being back in the Disneyland park is the food, especially the churros. (Used with Permission: Jen Dunyon)

Jen is thrilled she gets to see her four daughters enjoy some of the same experiences she had as a child.

“I’ve really grown up with the love for family vacations [and] the memories that you make on those,” she said.

Now Jen helps plan others families’ Disney vacations through their family owned business Get Away Today.

“Since 1990, my parents, they took our family and take my siblings and us to Disneyland. We had the best time and we came home and my parents were like, ‘How could we make this more affordable for families?’” she said.

But Jen knows those special memories can’t happen if safety isn’t top of mind. She makes sure their family is prepared before hitting the road, especially after they had a flat tire on their last road trip over spring break.

“It’s made me really mindful to make sure that our tires are checked, make sure our car is tuned up because the safety of your family is priority,” she said.

Jen Dunyon and her 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, pose in front of their car on their road trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. (Used with Permission: Jen Dunyon)

In addition to good podcasts and books, the also Dunyons packed plenty of food and water.

“We’re big on starting and ending with a prayer and just like little things, just being mindful the whole time that we’re not distracting our driver, that we stop when needed and that we always have a little bit of caffeine [and] sunflower seeds that distract and get your mind going,” she explained.

UDOT Spokesperson John Gleason says it comes down to doing those little things to ensure families can get to their destination safely. He urges drivers to get enough rest before leaving.

“There’s a lot to focus on packing, tying up things at work – but you want to make sure that you’re getting the proper sleep leading up to it so that you don’t nod off on the road,” he said.

Gleason also encourages people to take frequent breaks and rotate drivers.

“Schedule stops, get out, walk around every two hours or so, so that you don’t become too complacent with driving,” he suggested.

The entire Dunyon family poses together on their trip in California. They make several preparations to ensure they get to their destination safely when they road trip like checking their tires, getting enough sleep, and buckling up. (Used with Permission: Jen Dunyon)

He even recommends planning those stops ahead of time on a map.

The Dunyons stopped at their grandparents’ home in St. George on their drive to California.

“I love a halfway point. It’s just so doable. It’s easy to get to,’ Jen said. “My husband, he’s such a trooper, but he appreciates just to be able to get out and stretch a little bit.”

Even though it’s a long journey, Gleason urges drivers and passengers to remain vigilant.

“You know, the basics: buckling up, driving focused, driving alert, never driving anything but sober,” Gleason said.

“My husband has like zero tolerance on not wearing your seatbelt safely, Jen said. “[He’s] just really big on making sure that even though it’s not as comfortable, it’s worth it to be safe.”

This is an especially important reminder ahead of Pioneer Day when many are hitting the road for last three-day weekend before school starts. Gleason anticipates 20 to 30 percent more traffic on the road and urges drivers to avoid peak travel times, starting tonight, tomorrow afternoon and late on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s an exciting time because so many of us have been inside and a lot of people are getting out and enjoying themselves. We just want to make sure they get to where they are going safely and build these summer memories,” he said.

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