Written on Jul 29, 2020 9:17:00 AM
Safe Driving Tips for Your Summer Road Trips
To many, thoughts of summer may bring up images of beach days, warm weather, and an annual family road trip. If this is you, you’re just one of many Americans who pack up the car off for a vacation. A recent poll found that Americans will spend an average of 23 hours in a car this summer road tripping with their families. However, all those people traveling, combined with long hours on the road, means the chances of an auto accident increase. By practicing safe driving techniques, you and your family can avoid these obstacles and continue on your road trip safety.
Here are a few safe driving tips for your summer travels so you can enjoy your summer vacation as safe as possible!
Why It's Important to Practice Safe Driving Techniques in the Summer
Over 100 million Americans took a vacation in 2019, with nearly 70 percent of these trips taking place in the summer. The increased amount of people on the road also means heightened chances of auto accidents. The NHTSA reports that over 9,000 fatal accidents occurred on the road between the months of June and August in 2018.
Safe driving techniques during road trips include more than just road safety; temperatures can easily soar in cars and result in dangerous heatstroke. Additionally, the summer months are frequent hosts to inclement weather conditions. Spontaneous thunderstorms can cause flooding and harsh traveling conditions. By practicing these safe driving tips, you can ensure you and your family travel as safely as possible this and every summer.
Tip #1 Get Your Car Serviced
Whether you’re traveling 200 miles or 2,000, it’s essential to make sure your vehicle is running properly before you head out on the road. Regular maintenance goes a long way when it comes to preventing breakdowns. The last thing you want is your car to break down when you're hundreds of miles from your destination - and potentially in the middle of nowhere.
Make sure to inspect all fluid levels (especially oil and transmission fluid), tire pressure, lights, and windshield wipers before a road trip. Check your spare tire and jack to make sure both are in working order. If you’re due for an oil change, get one before you leave and ask them to check your battery for any potential issues as well. Also don’t forget about your AC system; summer heat can especially affect children and elderly adults.
Tip #2 Stock Up On Supplies
Summer temps can easily climb in a car. Elderly passengers and young children are especially susceptible to heatstroke, so make sure you pack enough water in case your car breaks down, if the AC malfunctions, or if anyone is dehydrated.
Besides drinking water, it would be wise to bring medicines, nonperishable food, jumper cables, blankets, and other essential items for an emergency road trip kit. Besides, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Tip #3: Avoid Distractions
Who knew that your GPS - an invaluable tool on road trips - could also be a dangerous distraction? Distracted driving accounts for thousands of accidents every year; in fact, nearly 3,000 people were killed in 2018 as a direct result of distracted driving. Distractions are, of course, anything that takes your attention away from the road and can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Talking on the phone, eating while driving, and using a GPS system are all common culprits. These are also frequent road trip activities; picking up fast food to eat while on the road and using your GPS while traveling through new territories are mainstays of road trip travel.
To help keep you and your loved ones safe while on your trip, try to limit using your devices while you drive. If someone is sitting in the passenger seat, see if they can monitor the GPS so you can safely keep your eyes on the road. And if possible, try to stop somewhere to buy food instead of eating on the road. Besides, it gives you a good opportunity to stretch your legs!
Tip #4: Prepare For Dangerous Weather
Anyone who lives in Florida knows rainstorms are a summer staple. Even if you’re road tripping elsewhere in the country, it’s vitally important to be aware of any environmental dangers such as flash floods and sudden thunderstorms. Before heading off on your trip road, you should always make sure your windshield wipers are working properly and not leaving streaks on your windshield, since this creates glare and can obstruct your vision - which doesn’t help when it’s already hard enough to see while driving in the rain.
Check to make sure your tires are inflated and treaded. Inspecting the pressure can help see if you need to inflate before you drive again. This will protect you and ensure your vehicle has the right amount of traction while on the road. Also, check to see if your headlights and tail lights are working properly as these are pivotal for other drivers to see you on the road, and for you to see.
Put together a roadside emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, warm blankets, road flares, jumper cables, oil, coolant, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a small tool kit. Make sure you bring a working cell phone and a charger. If you do run into inclement weather, stay calm and try your best to stay focused on the road. Drive safely at your own pace and be wary of overly-aggressive drivers.
Tip #5 Be Aware Of Larger Vehicles
Road Trips will often see you driving alongside large commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks and buses. In many cases, accidents with semi-trucks place the blame on the drivers of the smaller passenger vehicles. According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, in truck-to-car accidents, “car drivers were assigned a contributing factor two to four times more often than were truck drivers in all crash types.”
To prevent a serious auto accident with a bus or semi-truck, follow these safety driving tips:
- If there is a semi- truck or bus that’s ahead of you signaling to get into your lane, DON’T try to accelerate to cut them off. This increases your risk of an auto accident.
- Give trucks and buses extra room in bad weather. Since trucks and buses alike have much larger wheel bases than cars do, the large wheels of these commercial class vehicles can kick up a large amount of water, mud, or road debris during inclement weather.
- Watch out for larger vehicles making a turn. If you’re traveling next to a truck or bus, keep an eye out for turn signals at intersections. Give it a wide berth and let it complete its turn before making your own.
What To Do If You Get Into An Auto Accident?
Even if you practice the most strident safety tips while driving, sometimes accidents will occur. If you do find yourself involved in an accident, it’s important to remain calm and check if anyone is injured before calling for emergency help. Consider printing out an auto accident guide and keeping it in your glove compartment just in case.
If an auto accident happens on your road trip, then we'd like to let you know that we're here for you. Call us if you've been in an accident and we'll do our best to assist you with any claims you may need to file. We hope that you're not in an accident, but we also hope that if you are, you'll get our help. Call for a free consultation today!