Summer is just around the corner; bringing with it warm nights, late night baseball games and family vacations. Millions of families choose to hit the road for adventure, freedom, and affordability. Like most things, being prepared should be a priority. Here are the top 5 safety tips for your summer road trip.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Schedule your vehicle for a tune up, even if it is not time. Let your mechanic know the distance you will be driving, the climate you will be driving in, and whether or not you are pulling a boat or camper. All of these things may require a motor oil with higher viscosity meant for longer mileage. Double check that your tires, fluids, belts, air conditioner and battery are thoroughly inspected.
- Map your Journey: Technology is fantastic for mapping your journey, but have a backup plan in the form of an actual map because it goes without saying that when you need your GPS the most is when it won’t work. Check each state’s Department of Transportation website to research road closures and construction wait times. Finally, share your plans with someone who you plan on checking in with.
- Think Like a Kid: Get in your backseat and look around. Are all window and child door locks secured? Is there a sunshade and do air vents reach their seats? Is there anything that is sharp or loose that small hands could reach? Most importantly, check that booster and car seats are installed correctly. Not sure? Call your local fire department to schedule an appointment to have it assessed or call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a participating location. Driving with older kids? Resolve to keep them buckled at all times, even if taking a nap.
- Visit the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration website (gov) and research any vehicle equipment recalls, road safety tips, and review safe driving practices aka put your cell phone down.
- Roadside Assistance: there are multiple companies that offer roadside assistance programs and if you are traveling long distances, it may be a good idea to subscribe to a policy that covers emergent and non-emergent situations.
- Safety Kit: The NHTA suggests a safety kit that includes:
- Spare tire and required tools to change a tire. If you do not know how to change a tire, ask your local mechanic to teach you this invaluable life skill.
- Jumper cables
- Flares and other warning flags
- Food, water, blankets and a flashlight
- First aid kit suitable to your family’s needs
- Relax: A well rested, relaxed driver, equals a safe driver. As the driver, if you feel yourself becoming drowsy or hungry, pull over and take a break, or switch drivers. Chances are if you are feeling restless so are your passengers and a little fresh air may just save the day.
Families first fell in love with road trips in the early twentieth century for the chance to experience adventure in their horseless carriages. This time-honored summer tradition continues to promise the same adventure and freedom as before but with a little more responsibility. Following these top 5 safety tips for your summer road trip will ensure your vacation memories go off without a hitch.