Tips for Safe Driving During Family Vacations
Use these 8 ideas for a safer, easier summer road trip
Planning a road trip this summer? You’re in good company. This upcoming Fourth of July, an estimated 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more, the highest since AAA started tracking 18 years ago, according to AAA. Here’s how to make your road trip safer.
1. Check for recalls on your
vehicle and get your car
serviced ahead of time, advises the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Get your
automobile’s oil changed, tires rotated and other service done as needed. Also,
be sure to top off your auto’s fluids, check the battery’s life and properly
inflate tires – and if you need new tires, purchase them before the trip.
Plan your route and breaks. Avoid
going through major metro areas during rush hour. If possible, try to plan
trips that don’t involve travel around major summer holidays.
Get everyone situated. Kids under 13 always should ride in the
backseat, advises the NHTSA,
and so should pets, ideally buckled in using a safety harness or kept safe in a
crate secured in the cargo area. Check that children’s car seats and booster
seats are properly
installed. An estimated 46 percent aren’t, warns the NHSTA.
4. Pack an emergency road kit with these
items, advises the NHTSA:
- Cell phone and charger
- First aid kit
- Flares and a white flag
- Jumper cables
- Tire pressure gauge
- Jack and ground mat for changing a tire
- Work gloves and a change of clothes
- Basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak)
- Water and paper towels for cleaning up
- Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Emergency blankets, towels and coats
Prepare healthy snacks and plenty of water for the trip.
Consider packing a picnic lunch, too, which can be eaten at the picnic table at
a rest stop, avoiding the need for fast food.
Keep the driver focused on the road, not other tasks. Distracted driving claimed 3,450
2016 alone, according to the NHTSA, with mobile phone
usage particularly dangerous: “Sending or reading a text takes your
eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of
an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Play games to keep the kids entertained. Also,
consider limiting kids’ screen time and instead, provide books, puzzles and
toys. Fun games for passengers include the game I Spy, where a player says, “I spy with my little eye,
something [color here],” and each person takes a turn guessing. Or, the “I’m thinking of an animal” game, where
the first player gives one clue, and everyone else asks one question at a time
until someone guesses the answer. This game can be modified for other
categories, too, like plant, object, historical figure, etc. Another game is to
look at license plates, assigning various points for certain states.
Take breaks about every two hours to stretch legs and allow everyone to use the
rest room. This also will help keep the driver alert.
During these breaks, don’t leave kids or pets inside the parked car,
as temperatures climb
fast, even with windows cranked. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in just 10 minutes, the temp
can rise nearly 20 degrees F, exponentially building from there.
Use these tips to help make your summer travels
safe and full of happy memories. As the saying goes, “Travel is the only thing
you buy that makes you richer.”