If you're planning on kicking off summer with a getaway, you're not alone. For example, in a recent survey conducted by Travelocity, almost 40% of Americans surveyed are planning to travel over Memorial Day weekend alone, with 77% of them planning to travel by car.
Before you hit the open road, be sure to start the summer travel season off right by preparing for your adventure. Spending some time getting ready will help ensure a safe, fun and stress-free road trip.
Start by treating your car to a check-up. Before you drive off into the sunset, stop by your mechanic and ask them to:
- Check your filter and oil levels
- Top off all fluid levels, including coolant and windshield wiper fluid
- Change your air filter, if needed
- Check your tires, including the spare tire, for proper inflation
- Rotate tires, if you haven't had it done for the last six months or 7,500 miles
- Inspect belts and hoses
- Test the battery and brakes
- Change transmission fluid if needed
In today's digital world, planning your route can be as simple as pulling up an app or opening Google Maps. Take a few minutes to map your route ahead of time, then let a trusted friend or family member know exactly where you'll be driving to and when you plan on getting there. In addition, check weather conditions and road closures along your chosen route before you leave.
Grab a soft-sided bag and fill it with emergency supplies. The California Office of Traffic Safety recommends stocking your emergency kit with:
- Jumper cables
- A properly inflated spare tire, lug wrench and jack
- A tire pressure gauge and a can of compressed air
- Roadside flares
- First-aid kit
- Tool kit
- Flashlight and batteries
- Duct tape
- A plastic tarp
- Bottled water and energy bars
- Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
- Plastic bags (for trash)
When you're packing up the car, don't put the emergency kit in first. Instead, wait until everything else is securely stowed before placing the kit in the trunk. That way, you can easily access it in case of an emergency.
If, despite your best efforts and pre-planning, you end up broken down on the side of the road, what should you do? First, pull your car to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. Put your car in park, set the emergency brake, and point the wheels away from the road. Keep your emergency contact numbers programmed into your phone so you can access them easily when needed.
If you can safely get out, place flares about 50 feet behind your car to alert other drivers. Don't, however, leave the car by the road while you're waiting for help; generally, it's safer to stay with your car than to be a pedestrian.
If a stranger pulls over while you're waiting for help to arrive, remain in the car with your doors locked. Roll the window down a bit and let them know help is on the way.
5. Staying Safe on the Road
When you're on the road, remember every occupant needs to be buckled up at all times. Not only is this the law, but seat belts save lives... more than 12,000 a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The safest place for kids under age 12 is in the back seat. Finally, if you feel fatigued, switch drivers or pull over to rest.
Following these five simple tips can help ensure your summer road trip is safe and enjoyable.