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Driving Safely on Your Summer Road Trip

Road trip.

There's no doubt about it — summer is road trip season. Who doesn't love the idea of long sunny days, breezy summer nights, and the vast open road stretching before you, just waiting to be explored?

It's a fantastic formula for adventure as long as you remember one thing: Increased traffic and rising temperatures can make summer driving a challenge, so it's important to plan for a safe trip.

With that in mind, let's explore some summer safety basics.

Take the trip of your dreams but arrive safely

With school out of session and Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day all offering the opportunity for time off, summer is also holiday season. Do some smart preparation so your holiday road trip isn't ruined by unexpected travel hassles or safety issues.

The first step in this process begins before you depart. A thorough vehicle servicing, including an oil change, tire checks, battery tests, and a tune up, can help minimize the odds of a roadside breakdown. Additionally, roadside assistance is a great safety net should something go haywire when you're traveling away from home.

Once you're on the road, it's important to follow standard safety protocols. This means seat belts and appropriate seats and restraints for children. Drivers should also keep their smartphones out of their hands; distracted driving is responsible for thousands of road deaths and hundreds of thousands of road injuries every year. Even hands-free texting or calling can diminish a driver's ability to respond to changing road conditions. Distraction can also come in other forms (the radio, conversations, etc.), so it's important to never allow your concentration to waver.

Fatigue is another road trip danger, as it's estimated that more than 100,000 accidents are caused every year by tired drivers. If you're starting to get even a bit drowsy, share the driving burden with someone else, or pull over and take a brief nap. Along with not driving while fatigued, drivers should attempt to get at least seven hours of sleep the night before a trip departure. Research has shown those who get only five to six hours of sleep are twice as likely to crash as those who sleep seven hours or more.

Other keys to safe summer road trips

In addition to universal road safety basics, drivers taking summer trips should take additional seasonal precautions. High summer temperatures can turn dangerous in parked cars, so it's vitally important to never leave children unattended in a vehicle. It's also important to get a pre-trip air conditioner checkup, as traveling in the summer heat without air can make for a brutally uncomfortable ride.
Packing an emergency kit is another smart idea for a safe summer road trip. Ideally this kit should include first aid supplies, flares, tire changing tools, flashlights, batteries, water, and snacks. All of these items could become crucially important in the event of a breakdown in an isolated area.

Finally, if you need a little help finding great places to visit during your trip, harness the power of technology and download some smartphone apps to help guide and plan your trip (not while driving, of course!).

Your next move

Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. With some savvy planning and forethought — and a little assistance from the tips listed above — you can help make your trip safe, successful and fun.


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