6 Summer Vacation Safety Tips For The Road

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Photo from William Warby

For more than a century, Americans have been using the automobile to get away from it all and enjoy their summer vacations free and clear from the duties of work. In fact, we’d say there is no ideal more American than the wind-in-your-hair road trip. That’s because the first major one took place here in 1903. On May 23, in fact, almost 111 years to the day, a cross-country automobile trip was completed from San Francisco to New York City.

Americans still have a love affair with the road, and if you and/or your family plan on taking an excursion this year, we suggest honing up on your safety tips. Here are some of the essentials.


One: Make Sure Your Car Is Healthy.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests getting your tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner examined by a certified mechanic before driving that first mile. During the summer time, temperatures soar, and that can also enlist the need for a higher viscosity motor oil.


Two: Get Plenty Of Rest.

Road weariness and that desire to “just get there” can cause more trouble than it’s worth. The NHTSA has cited drowsy driving as a major contributing factor in more than 100,000 accidents each year, thus driving up insurance and medical costs and (possibly) endangering lives. If possible, don’t let the burden fall on just one person, particularly for long car rides. Take turns and find somewhere to pull in and stay if you or your partner(s) can’t be at your most alert.


Three: Check Your Car Seats.

The Parents website notes that 80 percent of car seats or booster seats are improperly installed, putting children’s lives in danger. What most parents don’t know is that by dialing the 866-SEAT-CHECK toll-free number, you can get the name of a certified inspector to make sure your child’s seat is properly installed before the big trip.


Four: Prepare For The Unexpected.

According to the NHTSA, every good emergency kit should come with warm blankets (maybe not as big of a deal in the summer time, but could be depending on your route and destination); a flashlight; water; jumper cables, tire changing tools; flares; a working smartphone with charger; an emergency first-aid kit; and, if affordable, a roadside assistance plan in case you break down in a strange location.


Five: Be Weather Mindful.

During the summer, children should not be left unattended in a hot car, especially one without A/C or one that is turned off with the windows rolled up. Furthermore, small children may have trouble getting out of the sunlight as you travel. Make sure you have coverage — sunglasses, visors, etc. — and take care of yourself while you’re at it since the sun can become a huge distraction while you’re driving. Last but not least, beware of those pop-up thunderstorms. Don’t try to outrun them, and don’t keep driving when it’s too hard to see through the rainfall.


Lastly: Utilize Child Safety Locks.

Small children are curious, and that curiosity can sometimes cause major trouble if they’re within reach of a door handle. By enabling your child safety locks, you can avoid nasty surprises while you’re driving and keep your little ones safe.


In Summary

Summer vacation is the time to relax and let your hair down. It’s your freedom from routine and the demands of home. However, don’t let that carefree spirit compromise your commitment to safety. Make sure you prepare for the things that can go wrong while you’re on an extended car trip. By employing the safety tips mentioned above, you and your family will be more freed up to have the time of your lives (until next summer, of course).

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