Summer is just a few weeks away, which means it's almost time for vacation road trips. You and all your friends, piling into a car for camping trips up the coast, travel to music festivals, and a cheaper-than-airfare way to hit up Las Vegas pool parties. Last year, nearly 80% of families in the United States opted for a long road trip during the summer months. But it's more important than ever to make sure you're staying safe on the open road. Here are a few tips to make sure everything runs smoothly.
1. Don't text and drive
According to car accident attorney Hal Waldman, distracted driving is leading to a huge increase in dangers on the road. While distractions come in many forms, more and more people are looking down at their phones instead of keeping their eyes on the road. Texting and driving is illegal in most states, and is the cause of a huge number of auto accidents. Let your passengers have the AUX cord and send texts on your behalf, so you can focus on driving. Even if your trip isn't for a few weeks, why not break the habit now?
2. Pay attention to how your car is driving
In the weeks before your trip, listen to your car. The summer heat can leave it vulnerable to wear and tear. How worn are your tires? Are your windshield wipers ruined with sun rot? Is the car making a new sound? Transmission slipping? If anything seems out of the ordinary, take note before getting some preventative maintenance.
3. Go for a tune-up
Speaking of maintenance, it's a good idea to make sure everything is in tip-top shape before taking off. Take your car to the shop to check the brakes, oil, filters, fluid levels, lights, engine, battery, and tire pressure. Routine checks ensure your car is working well all the time, and helps keep you clear of potential breakdowns. No one wants to be broken down on the side of the road.
Check for recalls, too. Car manufacturers often release new recalls, and you might not have heard about a serious problem with your car. The NHTSA has a list of active recalls on their website. Use your car's vehicle identification number (VIN) to make sure all is well.
4. Make sure you have an emergency kit
In the event your car does break down, it's important to have some emergency items within reach. Safety experts recommend keeping a cell phone charger, first aid kit, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, water, and blankets in the car. Hopefully you'll never need anything in the kit, but it will help keep peace of mind as you cruise down the highway.
5. Switch drivers
Driving while drowsy contributes to thousands of accidents every year. It's critical to make sure you're well rested and not falling asleep at the wheel. Get a full night's sleep before leaving on any long drive, and if possible, switch off between drivers.
Be smart, stay focused, use common sense on the road. Safe travels!