As the summer months roll in, many people are gearing up to take much-needed vacations. If you do opt to take a summer road trip, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape before you head out. And once you get on the road, there are several, basic safety measures you should take to help you have the smoothest, most anxiety-free road trip possible. After all, that’s what summer vacations are all about!
Prepping your car before you go
State Farm® recommends checking your tire pressure, even in your spare. It’s not fun to have to change a tire in the middle of nowhere and not have an adequately filled spare with you.
Check the wear on your tires next to see if it’s time for replacements.
Have your cooling system checked to help keep your engine from overheating. During maintenance, have the technician flush your coolant and make sure the belts are in working order.
Hot temperatures can impact other engine fluids, too. When they’re low, chances of your engine overheating increase. Have your oil, transmission fluid and brake fluid checked and topped off with the types recommended by your owner’s manual.
Balmy temperatures and use of your air conditioner can damage your car’s battery. It should be checked regularly to prevent wear out and fails.
Here’s a catch-all list of important things to have in your vehicle, regardless of your trip length or destination.
Non-perishable food and water. It’s always good to have snacks, but it’s also important to have lots of water, not only because you dehydrate quicker in warm weather, but also in case you get stranded somewhere, or your car overheats.
Road flares. You should always have at least two flares in case your car dies or you get a flat in a rural area. This will be especially useful if this happens in the middle of the night. And when help comes along, it’s also important to have jumper cables.
Flashlights. Pack at least two with batteries for each of them.
First aid kit. Have it ready just in case you or a passenger needs immediate medical attention.
A multitool. These come in handy when you’re in a bind on the road.
A car charger for your cellphone. In an emergency, you’ll want a charged phone to call for help.
On the road
Try and keep your gas tank at least half full and refuel whenever possible. Running out of fuel in an unfamiliar area, miles from civilization, can really put a damper on an otherwise awesome road trip.
Night driving and headlight glare safety
Driving at night is considered the most dangerous time to drive because there’s reduced visibility, and oncoming headlights can blind you momentarily. The best way to avoid being blinded is to slow down when passing other vehicles, and keep your eyes moving so you don’t stare directly into their headlights.
If you do get blinded, quickly look to the right side. Your peripheral vision will help you see other vehicles around you.
Keep your windshield and headlights clean to help improve your visibility.
Driving with kids
Driving long distances with kids can be lots of fun as long as you’re prepared to accommodate them.
Kids may need to stop more often to use the restroom or stretch their legs, so be sure to build rest breaks every few hours into the schedule.
Also, have plenty of healthy snacks and water accessible for them.
Make sure you have proper safety restraints for each child, and that they are installed correctly.
Dangers of drowsy driving
Falling asleep at the wheel is a common problem. Drowsy driving leads to more than 100,000 crashes a year, according to State Farm. It resulted in 697 deaths in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Association.
Avoid drowsy driving accidents by taking regular breaks. If you’re having a hard time concentrating, pull over for a bit. Make sure you get at least six hours of sleep during each 24-hour period of travel. And while driving, have natural energy-enhancing snacks and drinks like water and protein-enriched foods.
Incorporating these tips will help you have a successful, low-stress road trip so you can focus on making memories.