It’s finally summer vacation season, which means you may be preparing for a long road trip. Summer is the most dangerous time to drive, which means you should take extra precautions. Here are four tips for safe driving on your summer vacation:
Do a Safety Check
The last thing you want on the way to your vacation is a stressful and potentially expensive vehicle breakdown. Before taking a long trip, you should perform a general safety check on your vehicle or go to a mechanic to ensure that it’s in good working order. Be sure to check your tires, battery, belts, coolant, radiator, oil level, headlights and tail lights. If you have any doubts about your vehicle’s reliability, take it to a mechanic for a tune up.
Bring an Emergency Kit
You never know what could go wrong during your trip, so be prepared with an emergency kit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends packing a kit containing the following:
- Cell phone and car charger
- First aid kit
- Flares and a white flag
- Jumper cables
- Tire pressure gauge
- Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
- Work gloves and a change of clothes
- Basic repair tools and duct tape
- Water and paper towels for cleaning up
- Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Emergency blankets, towels and coats
Also, be sure to pack your license, registration, and car insurance card, as well as a phone number for a national automotive assistance company.
Being well rested is an important part of long-distance driving. Driving while drowsy increases your risk of an accident and causes around 850 deaths per year. Don’t risk your life and the lives of your passengers by driving too long or driving while tired. Get a good night’s sleep before leaving and take turns driving, switching every few hours. If no one else can drive, be sure to make a pit stop at least once every two hours. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself awake; this also forces you to stop for bathroom breaks. If you start to feel tired, pull over for a short nap.
Practice Safe Driving
Safe driving practices are even more important during long-distance travel. Follow all traffic laws, including posted speed limits. Avoid distractions like talking on the phone, texting and eating while driving. Make a habit of looking far ahead of you for potential dangers. Look five cars ahead (or ten in dense traffic) to spot any problems ahead of time. You should also do your best to avoid heavy traffic, which can be dangerous and will slow your trip. When planning your route, avoid going through major cities during rush hour.
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