Keeping Summer All Fun and Games
5 Safety Tips for This Summer's Family Road Trips
Getting ready for a nice little weekend road trip? Or maybe you're planning an ambitious month-long family vacation trek across the country. Either way, you can help guarantee your summer driving season results in maximum success without all the stress. Before you load up the car with food, family, and fun, brush up on these travel tips from our friends at Drivers Ed Direct.
Time To Shift Into Summer Gear
Before you hit the road, make sure you hit the local garage or your dealership to get your ride ready for the summer heat. Make sure your tires are in summer-shape, ready for the dry, hot road and don't forget to check your tire pressure: properly inflated tires go a long way in improving fuel economy and preventing dangerous tire blow outs.
Also, have your fluids checked and topped-off, including your radiator fluid, wiper fluid, and oil - which may need to be adjusted to a thicker quality in preparation for the extreme heat summer can bring. Then have the rest of your car given a nice once over, making sure all the belts are in good working order, the wipers are ready to clean bugs off your windshield, and your battery won't die on you while you're in Timbuktu.
Be Prepared For Some Unexpected "Fun"
Chances are you won’t run into any driving snafus this summer (knock on wood), but if you do, who knows when and where your car will choose to break down. Don’t get caught ill-equipped for this unfortunate occasion; instead be prepared by having a summer safety travel kit packed and ready to go with:
- Cell phone and car charger to call for help
- First-aid kit
- A flashlight
- Emergency flares
- Jumper cables
- Extra clothes and blankets (nights get cold, even in the summer)
- Extra washer fluid
- Nonperishable food
- Jug of water
- Basic tools (screw driver, wrench, pocket knife, etc.)
- Navigation system and/or maps
Another helpful tip: Before you leave on your trip, even a short one, let a friend or other family member know where you’re going, where you plan to stay, and when you’ll be back home.
Loading your car wisely can provide both safety and economic benefits. When you load your vehicle, don't pack things so high that you block your windows and lose important visibility. Also, make sure everything is packed securely and won't go flying into the back of your head if you have to brake abruptly. For maximum handling, try to distribute the weight of your load evenly. And to save a few bucks on gas, get all that junk out of the trunk - that is, only bring what is necessary: the heavier your vehicle, the more it costs to drive it.
Play Nice: Share The Road
With summer inevitably comes more hazards and obstacles out on the road, like more bicyclists, motorcycles, joggers, and road construction. Summer will also bring an increase in people vacationing, folks in slower RV's, and out-of-state drivers passing through. Be patient and courteous, making sure to give extra room to those who need it... remember, they all have the right to the road just as well as you do.
Don't Get Sidetracked By Distractions
What better way to ruin a vehicular voyage than with distracted driving. By now, the topic of distracted driving is a popular one, and it will continue to be popular until more people take serious measures to remain focused while driving. If you're the one driving, it's your responsibility to drive safely; your life and the passengers you carry depend on it. Passengers can do their part too by encouraging safe driving practices and not being a distraction themselves. Items to avoid while driving:
- Texting or making a phone call – Put down that cell phone until you pull over. Seriously.
- Eating and drinking – Two hands on the wheel are better than one.
- Playing with the radio – Putting your head down to look at the stereo, for even a second, can be fatal.
- Driving drowsy – Pull over and rest until you’re refreshed or you will eventually wind up rolled over, in a ditch.
- Other passengers – As the driver, your focus is the road, not those sitting in the back seat.
Did you know distracted driving has accounted for more than 7 million accidents over the past five years? Visit our Respect Reality teen driver safety website to see how you can help cut down on dangerous driving behavior.
So before you start your engines this summer, keep these helpful travel tips in mind, and you'll be well on your way to a safe and rewarding journey of driving enlightenment.
Sources: DriversEdDirect.com, Edmunds.com, DrowsyDriving.org, Castrol.com
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