How can I Stay Safe on a Summer Road Trip?

summer trip

This summer is becoming the busiest season for travelers across the United States. Now that Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are lifting, people are anxious to get back out on the road. According to a Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study, an overwhelming 65 percent of travelers prefer driving over any other method of transportation, which means that many motorists will be on the roads this summer. However, because of the lockdowns over the past year, people’s driving skills have likely diminished. Combine that with the overly congested highways, driving conditions will be as dangerous as ever.    

Before heading out on the road this year summer, it is important for drivers to practice a few key safety tips when getting behind the wheel. Listed below are important driving tips for a safe summer road trip.

Service and Maintenance  

As more people worked remotely over the past year, their cars likely stayed home as well. When an extended period of time passes, it could do more damage than good. The vehicle’s fluids still evaporate even when it sits, and the battery will likely drain quicker as well. It is a good idea to have a car serviced before it is used full-time or before it is taken on a long trip. 

Remember to have the repair shop check the following items:

  • Oil and fluids: Modern vehicles can go longer distances between oil changes, but car manufactures advise to change the oil anyway if it has not been changed within 12 months. This is also true for flushing or topping off brake fluid, coolant, and all other fluids.
  • Tires: Be sure to have the tire pressure checked and filled according to specifications, and have the tread depth and wear pattern checked as well. Tread depth is important for traction and safety, and if the wear pattern is not straight, it could be an indication that something might be wrong. A technician will recommend rotating or replacing the tires if necessary. 
  • Brakes: Brakes are obviously vital to driving safely, so having them checked regularly is a must. Also, if a car has been sitting for long time, rust will likely build on the brake rotors, causing lesser brake performance, which could be dangerous. 
  • Battery: Another adverse effect of not using a vehicle is low battery life. If a car does not start for an extended time, the battery will not hold a charge and may not start the car.
  • Wipers: Visibility is always part of driving safely, so it is best to replace the wiper blades and have the windshield cleaned inside and out before taking a trip. 
  • Lights: All exterior lighting should be operating correctly before driving, such as headlights, brake lights, and turning signals.
  • Recalls: A problem may arise in a vehicle that may have been affected by a recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posts up-to-date recall information for most vehicles, and the repairs should be covered by the vehicle’s manufacturer. 

Emergency Road Kit

An emergency road kit can be a lifesaver if equipped properly. It should have essential items, such as a well-stocked first-aid kit, roadside flares, jumper cables, and a flashlight with spare batteries. It is also a good idea to bring along a jump starter that has portable outlets to charge electronics, such as a cellphone.

It is a good idea to have non-perishable food and water available, especially if the car breaks down or overheats. Drinking water should be available when needed and can also be used for the engine if necessary. Summer temperatures can wreak havoc on the engine and cooling components, particularly if they are not maintained properly. 

Avoid Distractions and Drowsy Driving

In recent years, distracted driving has become one of the most common causes of car accidents. When driving with a loaded car of occupants and luggage, it is imperative that all passengers limit the distractions for the driver. If there are children coming along, it is a good idea to keep them distracted with a tablet, and make sure they have plenty opportunities to use the restroom or to stretch their legs. 

The driver needs to be always focused on the road ahead, which can be an extremely exhausting task. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving because the symptoms of both are similar and can lead to a severe or even fatal accident. In fact, State Farm reports that drowsy driving contributes to more than 100,000 car accidents per year, but the number is likely higher because many of these collisions go unreported. 

Before setting out on the road, a driver needs to have at least six to eight hours of sleep the night before. This should continue for every 24 hours on the road as well. Switching drivers is an option to prevent drowsy driving, as well as caffeine breaks or protein-rich snacks that can give boosts of energy when needed. 

Passenger Safety

Buckling up is the simplest step a passenger can do to be safe. Children under 13 years old should never be in the front seat, and car seats should be strapped in and secured in the child-safety hooks equipped in the vehicle. There should never be any lapping as well; each passenger should be in an individual seat with their own seat belt.    

Be Alert

The summer weather will bring out all different kinds of travelers, so every driver needs to be aware of other motorists. Pedestrians and bicyclists will likely be out, as well as motorcyclists.

Motorcycle riders need a good amount of distance between the vehicle and car, preferably double the amount of time between two cars. It is best to always check blind spots and to signal correctly when making any turns or switching lanes.       

Fallback Plan

There are times when vacations may not go as planned, so having a few backup plans can be extremely helpful. Having an emergency kit is just part of a contingency plan. Many hotels offer flexible rescheduling or cancellation options for most guests, so it is a good idea to only book with hotels that offer a cancellation policy. If no signal is found for satellite access, having a map in the vehicle is also useful.

COVID-19 restrictions must still be considered when travelling. Each state has their own rules regarding hygiene, social-distancing, and masks, so it is good to bring along masks and hand sanitizer products as well. Even though most states are lifting mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, there is no harm in being prepared if mandates or lockdowns occur while on vacation. Furthermore, keep an eye on the COVID-19 situation at the vacation destination.

Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Help Injured Travelers This Summer Season

Safety is a top concern for all traveling families, and this summer is expected to be busy. If you have been injured this summer by the negligence of another motorist, then contact the Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman right away. Our experienced and knowledgeable legal team will build your case. Call us at 856-751-2345 or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.