No season drives home the importance of auto safety more than summer–prime time for driving and for road construction. Add the variables of intense heat and sudden rainstorms, and you’ve got greater potential for hazardous driving conditions.
Of course, you can’t control traffic, road repairs, or the weather–but there’s plenty you can do. Your car, its occupants, as well as your trip preparation are all things you can check to make sure you have a safe summer driving.
You can prevent many breakdowns by taking your vehicle to a qualified mechanic in advance. It’s also wise to give the car a once-over yourself before your trip. Pay particular attention to:
* Check your tires. For safe driving and handling check for proper inflation and excessive or uneven wear. Don’t forget to check the spare.
* Top off your fluids. Watch the levels and check occasionally when driving long distances.
* Belts and hoses: Watch for signs of wear.
* Test your battery. This can easily be done at a mechanics while they’re doing routine services like an oil change.
* Have your brakes inspected to make sure they’re in good condition.
* Pack an emergency kit. It’s good to have extra supplies to be prepared for unexpected situations. Pack a flashlight, jumper cables, first-aid kit, blanket, extra water and warning devices like flares.
* Update those old wipers. Replace any blades that don’t clean the windshield well.
* Make sure all your lights work: headlights, taillights, brake lights and signal lights all keep your car and drivers around you safe on the road.
The Driver and Passengers
Make sure everyone is comfortable and secure so that the driver can focus on driving.
* Get your rest. Make sure anyone planning to drive is alert and prepared.
* Buckle up. Keep everyone safe the whole trip; always make sure children are in appropriate seats in the back (http://www.seatcheck.org).
* Minimize distractions. Bring games, books, music, and snacks to occupy younger travelers; a passenger should do the navigating and use the cell phone so the driver can focus on driving.
* Take your time. Stop every couple of hours to refresh everyone, refuel, check the oil and get more water.
Anticipation plays a key role in safety. Call ahead, use the internet, or check with an auto club such as AAA (aaa.com) to find out about traffic and road closures (fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo). It’s also good to check the weather scenarios into which you’ll be driving (nws.noaa.gov).
As you drive you can also tune your car radio to a station that provides regular weather and traffic reports. And if you can’t avoid such conditions, be mindful of how to navigate them safely.
* For construction zones: Slow down and expect sudden stops, obey signs and signals, and watch out for construction workers and equipment.
* In rainstorms: Slow down and increase following distances, use windshield wipers, defrosters, low-beam headlights and avoid standing water. (nsc.org/safety_road)
* Through slow traffic: Maintain safe speeds and following distances, avoid others’ blind spots, use your signals and stay relaxed.
Enjoy your summer and drive safely wherever you travel! If you have any questions about vehicle loans, vacation financing or summer savings programs to make your summer even more enjoyable, Liberty Savings is here to help.