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Safe & Fun Summer Road Trips

Tips for Safe Summer Road Trips

Memorial Day officially starts the American family summer vacation season. For most, it’s a time to think about picnics, family gatherings, and road trips. With a few tips from the expert automotive editors at Consumer Guide Automotive, families can make their summer (or any) trips more enjoyable and avoid the unexpected by being prepared.

“No matter how far families are traveling on the road, it is important to balance excitement and fun with the safety of everyone in the vehicle,” said Grant Whitmore, vice president of Consumer Guide Automotive. “Our automotive editorial team has outlined some key considerations to ensure that road trips are safe and exciting for the whole family.”

Consumer Guide Automotive Tips:

Vehicle maintenance: Up-to-date maintenance keeps on the road surprises and unexpected expenses to a minimum.

  • Prior to departure, visually check the air conditioning, coolant and oil, wipers and wiper fluid, vehicle lights, horn, belts and hoses, and of course, the battery. Look for signs of wear, frayed wires, or fluid leaks.

  • Properly inflated tires ensure best possible contact between tire and road, and also improve gas mileage. Drivers may need to adjust tire pressures to compensate for increased vehicle load. Consult your owner’s manual or doorjamb placard for proper tire-inflation pressures.

Seating and restraints: Correct seating and restraints for adults and children are mandatory by law, and the best way to ensure everyone’s safety in the event of a crash.

  • Never travel with more passengers than seatbelts.

  • The safest place for kids is in the back seat and in an approved and properly installed child seat. Make sure to test all child restraints and seat belts prior to taking to the road. Most dealerships and fire stations will provide free child-safety seat inspections.

  • Consider restraining family pets in a specially designed travel kennel. Unrestrained animals in a vehicle can distract the driver and endanger all passengers.

Prepare an emergency kit: This should be kept in every vehicle at all times but may need to be updated for a road trip.

  • Emergency kits should contain a flashlight, flares, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, extra clothes and gloves, paper towels/cloths, wiper fluid, food, and water.

  • Additionally, drivers should keep a basic tool kit in the vehicle at all times containing a wrench, a ratchet and sockets, screwdrivers, and pliers or Vise-Grips.

  • If traveling into unfamiliar territory, get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of dealerships along your route. Knowing the closest dealership could come in handy in the event of a breakdown.

Take breaks: Both the driver and passengers need adequate breaks during a drive.

  • Stopping every two to four hours to stretch and relax.

  • Do not drive hungry or tired. Use breaks to take a rest, eat, and energize when necessary.

Know your route: Plan a driving route ahead of schedule, and bring a good map with destination details. 

  • Share your planned route with a friend or family member who will not be on the trip.

    Know alternative routes for sudden changes in plans. Carry relevant maps as guides in these instances.

  • Do not attempt to read maps while driving. Put a passenger in charge of navigating.

  • Anticipate heavy traffic on trips near holiday weekends.

Entertaining children: Keeping children entertained and comfortable on a long trip is not an easy task. However, doing so will make the ride more enjoyable for all.

Before starting a road trip, make sure that children are involved in planning and preparation process.

  • It is also important to ensure children have toys and books to keep them entertained. Audio books can keep the driver alert while keeping children interested. 

  • Try the old standby games like the License-Plate game and I-Spy. Songs and singing is a simple and effective form of entertainment. Teach children songs that you remember from your family vacations.

  • Renting a portable DVD player to watch movies may seem like a way to keep children occupied and the driver focused, but it can be a safety risk. Portable players that are not properly secured can possibly injure passengers in an accident.

Choosing to drive to a vacation destination can be a great way to spend quality time with family members. Planning ahead ensures the safety of the vehicle and its occupants, as well as assisting in making the drive fun and involving for all. Adequate preparation can take a summer road trip from a daunting experience to a memorable vacation.

For more information, visit Consumer Guide Automotive.

(Source: Consumer Guide Automotive)