As the weather warms up and kids finish school, millions of American families are starting to plan that quintessential summer activity – the road trip. Many people believe that driving in the winter is more dangerous than in the summer, but according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies, research shows that August and July are the months with the most traffic fatalities. Some of the possible reasons for this increase include:
- More inexperienced drivers such as college students and teens are on the road
- More drivers are distracted or alcohol- or drug-impaired
- Roads are more congested with vacationers, bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists
- More road construction
To help you stay safe during your summer road trip, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Give your car a checkup
A broken-down car is not only a vacation buzzkill, it is also very dangerous and can put you and your passengers at risk. Before packing your bags, make some time prior to your trip to give your car a complete checkup. Mobile Oil recommends examining the following:
- Engine oil and transmission fluids
- Engine coolant
- Tire pressure and tread
Visit Mobile Oil for more information on its suggested car maintenance checklist for road trips.
Planning a road trip? Make some time prior to your trip to give your car a complete checkup.
Make sure your car hasn’t been recalled
Tens of millions of cars are recalled every year for all types of safety reasons from airbag problems to faulty door latches and fire hazards. While the car dealers will repair recalled vehicles for no charge, federal statistics reveal that approximately 30% of recalled vehicles remain unrepaired. Sometimes people do not even know that their car has been recalled. This is often the case if the car was purchased used. Check if your car has a recall by visiting Safercar.gov. Simply enter your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and see if your vehicle has an outstanding repair that needs to be made due to a safety recall. If so, repairing the problem should be a pre-road trip priority.
Share the road safely
Summer weather means more pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists are sharing the roads. And crowded roads mean more chances of a collision. All drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians need to follow proper road procedures and laws. Be extra cautious and understand the rules for passing, yielding, and turning. Use your mirrors frequently, do not speed or tailgate, and be sure to use your blinkers to alert others of your intentions. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules so it is up to you to be vigilant and responsible.
Never leave children or pets in the car
Every year there are tragic news stories about children and pets dying in hot cars. According to Kids and Cars, it only takes minutes for a child’s core body temperature to rise to 105 degrees if they are trapped in a hot vehicle. This can lead to heatstroke, seizures and death. In addition to heat-related deaths, children left alone in cars have been killed or injured by playing with windows or getting locked in a trunk. Never leave children or pets in the car for a minute, even if the windows are down.
Every year there are tragic news stories about children and pets dying in hot cars. Never leave children and pets in a car, even if the windows are down.
Have an emergency kit
Prepare for the unexpected by having an emergency kit on hand. DMV.org suggests that you have the following items with you:
- First aid kit
- Jumper cable
- Flashlight & extra batteries
- Rain poncho
- Cleaning wipes
- Drinking water and non-perishable snacks
- Fire extinguisher
Also, be sure to have a cell phone and your car charger. In addition, you’ll want to have extras of some items that are applicable to your needs, such as pet food and a water bowl if you are traveling with a pet, diapers for babies, etc.
Avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving is often associated with texting or talking on the phone while driving. But distracted driving is actually any time you are not focused on driving when you are behind the wheel. If you are paying closer attention to what your kids are doing in the back seat than what is ahead of you on the road, that is also considered distracted driving – and it is dangerous.
Long road trips with children can be trying for everyone. To avoid meltdowns (your child’s or your own!) here are some tips:
- Keep your kids entertained with movies, music, games or small toys. How Stuff Works has some fun ideas for helping kids stay busy during a road trip.
- Pack healthy snacks and drinks.
- If there is another adult in the car, have him or her sit in the back seat with them to help keep things under control.
- Take frequent breaks to allow your children to use the bathroom, stretch their legs, and get some exercise.
- If refereeing an argument, picking something up, or other task requires you to turn around and take your focus off the road, pull over instead.
- If necessary, especially if there is a crying baby who cannot be calmed down, pull the car over so you can tend to their needs.
A road trip is a wonderful way to come together as a family. By using these summer driving safety tips, you can help ensure that your road trip memories will be happy ones!
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. Omni Financial does not endorse, recommend or imply affiliation with the listed companies or organizations.