Safe Driving Tips for Summer Road Trips
At long last, winter is over! The roads are no longer covered in snow and ice and thousands of people all over the country are eager to take a vacation. Rather than heading to the airport, bus station, or train station, many of those soon-to-be travelers are planning to drive to their destination of choice.
Road trips remain an extremely popular summer activity. In 2017, a survey by AAA found that the number of families planning summer road trips was up 10% from the previous year. But it’s important to remember that just because the weather is nicer, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the risk of car accidents goes down during the summer months. Actually, there are several unique reasons why car accidents can occur during the summer.
Before you head out on your summer road trip, here are some tips to help make your trip a safe one.
Check Your Car
The last thing you want is to have your big trip sidelined by problems with your car. One of the best things you can do before a road trip is take your car to a mechanic to make sure it’s in good enough shape to make the trip. Have them check to make sure your car’s battery is charged and that all of your vehicle’s systems, lights, and signals are in good working order. Don’t forget to make sure you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid!
Since your tires come in direct contact with the road, you definitely won’t want to overlook checking those before you leave. Make sure they’re inflated to the specifications listed on the doorjamb of the the door to the driver’s seat. Also, make sure you don’t see any signs of wear or damage on your tires and check to make sure they have enough tread. The coin test is an easy way to see how much tread is left on your tires.
You may need to take a lot of things with you on your trip, but one thing you shouldn’t leave home without is an emergency roadside kit equipped with things like extra water, food, blankets, tools, emergency reflectors, a spare phone charger, your insurance information, and jumper cables. Hopefully, you won’t need them, but if you find yourself stranded by the side of the road, you’ll be glad to have them.
When it’s time to start driving, make sure you’ll have as few distractions as possible. Program your GPS system before you leave, put your phone on silent, and keep sunglasses within reach. One thing drivers often overlook is the practicality of the clothes they wear. Flip flops, for example, aren’t good for driving since it’s easy for them to get caught underneath pedals.
Do Your Research
Even though the weather is generally nicer in the summer than it is in the winter, the potential for severe weather still exists. Before you begin traveling, check the weather forecasts for the areas you’ll be traveling through so you don’t get caught in any unexpected storms. Also, don’t forget to see if there are any major construction projects along your planned route. Not only can construction work slow you down, with all those workers in the road, it’s easy for accidents to happen so it’s best to avoid construction if at all possible.
If you’re planning on storing luggage or other belongings on the roof of your vehicle during your trip, make sure everything is secured tightly and the weight is evenly distributed. Also, make sure none of your belongings are blocking your mirrors or your view out of windows.
Get Your Rest
You may be eager to get to your destination, but you shouldn’t sacrifice sleep to get there as quickly as possible. Drowsy driving is a major problem and in some cases, a drowsy driver can be about as impaired as a drunk driver. Make sure you get plenty of sleep before starting a trip and if you start to feel tired, find a safe place to pull over and rest or let someone else take the wheel. If you start having a hard time keeping your eyes open, find yourself missing turns, or are having a hard time remembering the last few miles you’ve driven, it’s time for you to get some rest. If you’ll be driving at night or after a busy day at some place like an amusement park, don’t overestimate how much energy you might have.