According to a recent news article, the average American citizen spends around 23 hours on road trips during the summer. While most people think that the longer daylight hours make summer the safest driving season, the opposite is true.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points out that summer is the most dangerous time of the year when it comes to road crashes. According to a report published by the organization, there was an average of 116 traffic deaths daily in July and August between 2007 and 2010.
Here are 8 driving tips that will keep you safe during your next summer road trip.
9 Driving Tips for Summer Road Trips Before You Hit the Road
1. Check for Recalls
Product recalls have been happening across the globe for decades, and vehicles are no exception. The manufacturer usually notifies the vehicle owners of the recall by post. However, you might want to visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where you can enter your vehicle identification number to check for recalls. Alternatively, you can sign up for recall alerts.
2. Make Sure Your Vehicle Road-Ready
The summer heat takes its toll on your vehicle. However, the hot weather challenges can be taken care of by doing the following:
- Check the Vehicle’s Air Conditioners: Your AC offers relief from the hot summer weather as you drive. Have a mechanic check that there are no coolant leaks, belt issues, and compressor problems.
- Service the Coolant System: The coolant system circulates coolant and water throughout the vehicle’s mechanics and keeps the radiator and engine cool. A malfunctioned coolant system could cause your engine to overheat. Have a mechanic check that the cooling fans, water pump, and radiator are in perfect condition.
- Check the Battery: The battery has a liquid that evaporates rather quickly during the hot weather shortening the battery’s lifespan. Have your battery checked and serviced before your road trip. The servicing includes checking that any corrosion and debris on cable connections are cleaned.
- Check the Oil, and if Necessary, Replace the Oil Filters: While you should be checking and changing your vehicle’s oil levels according to the manufacturer’s instructions, pay extra attention to the oil levels during the summer. If necessary, replace the oil filters.
- Make Sure the Wiper Blades are in Good Condition: Though hot, summers are characterized by downpours and summer storms that offer some relief from the sweltering heat. While good, the showers may affect your driving experience. Make sure you or your mechanic checks for noisy, broken, or malfunctioned wiper blades. Have them replaced or repaired before you hit the road.
3. Check Your Emergency Kit
Make sure you have a first aid kit, a road-ready spare tire along with tire replacement tools, a flashlight, jumper cables, a phone charger, road flares, a hazard triangle, and plenty of drinking water.
When On the Road
4. Safety First
Before starting the car, make sure that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up. Most parents think that they can hold a child in their lap or arms as long as the vehicle is not traveling at a fast speed, which is wrong. If there are any children in the vehicle, make sure they are correctly restrained in a suitable car seat. Most regions have laws stipulating that children beneath the age of seven should use a car seat while traveling.
Ensure that the car seat conforms to the safety standards in your region. Carry items such as games, books, movies, and music to keep the children entertained during the trip. If you are traveling with a pet, use a crate or a car seat.
5. Avoid Driving When Intoxicated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29 people die every day in the United States due to drunk driving. This number spikes during the summer. If you are heading out for a party, plan how you will get home. You can have a designated driver or take an Uber.
6. Look out for Distracted Drivers
It’s not uncommon for drivers to get distracted and justify it. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and claimed a total of 2,841 lives in 2018. You can tell that a driver is distracted if they:
- Brake or accelerate suddenly
- Continually drift from the lane markings
- Swerve between lanes
7. Avoid Getting Distracted
While you keep an eye out for distracted drivers, avoid getting distracted yourself. Make any adjustments on your GPS, car seats, mirrors, sound systems, and climate controls before you begin your journey.
Store any loose gear and other distractions away so that you are not tempted to reach out for them while you are driving. Snack smart. That means eating before or after the trip, not while you drive. Avoid using your cellphone or grooming in the car. If there are any passengers in the car, enlist their help so that you focus solely on driving. However, avoid chatting with them as this can be more distracting than using a mobile phone.
8. Share the Road
The good summer weather attracts more cyclists, motorcyclists, caravans, and walkers. As such, you will have to be more alert and careful while you drive. Always check and signal when changing lanes, avoid crowding other vehicles, and do not drive faster than the recommended speed limit. Remember to adjust your driving style in accordance with the existing conditions.
9. Avoid Driving Once you Start Feeling Drowsy
When you are going on a long trip, it’s easy to ignore any drowsiness as you may want to reach your destination quicker. Driving while you are feeling drowsy is the same as driving while you are drunk as your concentration and your reaction time in case of an incident is affected. If the vehicle has more than one driver, take turns behind the wheel. If you are the only driver, take a break every two to three hours.
Ensure Your City has Adequate Signage for Drivers
Even though you may have observed all the mentioned summer driving tips to the letter, accidents may still happen. Make sure you have the right highway signs and markers by contacting Worksafe Traffic Control Industries. We stock a wide variety of traffic signals, message signs, and other real-time traffic solutions.
Interesting related article: “Why should we all practice defensive driving?”