Are you planning to travel to Florida’s beaches this summer or to head out on a longer trip? If so, you should take steps to make sure your car is prepared to handle the trek and to take other basic safety precautions that can help you to avoid a costly auto accident.
Before You Go…
Before you leave on any road trip, it’s important to take stock of your vehicle, your packing and your passengers. We urge you to:
Check your tire pressure and tread wear. There are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes in the U.S. every single year. Checking to make sure your tires are safe could keep you from becoming the next statistic.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Tire Wise program is designed to teach consumers and commuters how best to maintain their tires for safe travel. Please check it out to learn more.
Check belts and hoses under the hood. As temperatures climb, rubber belts and hoses can degrade at a faster rate. Look for signs of wear such as cuts, cracks and blisters. If you spot any signs of concern, take your car in to the shop before hitting the road.
Check fluid levels. Make certain your oil, brake, transmission, coolant and power steering fluids are all topped off. Any signs of leakage should be checked out by a mechanic.
Double check that all of your headlights, taillights, brake lights and blinkers are working. Replace wiper blades, too. Being caught in a summer thunderstorm on the highway can be extremely dangerous when you’re visibility is hampered by worn blades.
Pack an emergency roadside kit. Make sure the kit includes things like a flashlight, first-aid kit, safety cones, jumper cables, drinking water and a backup method for charging your phone.
Pack toys and distractions for passengers. Nothing is more unnerving for a driver than a car full of young, bored occupants.
On the Road…
Driving safely is only the beginning of avoiding injury while on the road. You should also:
Buckle up and insist all passengers are secure. Wearing a seatbelt is the best protection you have in the event of a car accident. Even after hours in the vehicle, make sure all passengers keep their safety belts secure at all times.
Don’t drink and drive. Vacations may warrant a good time, but no one needs to suffer needlessly because you got behind the wheel after drinking. If you plan on imbibing, call a cab or walk back to your hotel.
Minimize distractions. Shut off your phone, use a hands-free device or name one of your passengers as your secretary/navigator to handle all distractions. This way, you can focus on the task at hand: Getting everyone to your destination safely.
Always keep an eye out for passengers and bicyclists. Especially in vacation spots, pedestrian traffic can be heavy. When met with a vehicle, these pedestrians run a serious risk of being fatally injured.
Share the road responsibly with motorcyclists. Motorcycles are everywhere during summer months. Exercise caution when sharing the road with bikers and yield to them whenever you are unsure of who has the right of way.
Keeping your summer road trip or vacation safe is a matter of preparing ahead of time and focusing while on the road. Though car accidents may be more common in summer months when more families are traveling, you can slash your risk by being a vigilant and prepared driver.