Ah…the summer road trip. It’s a rite of passage for millions of families and groups of friends. This year, the classic road trip is expected to make a big comeback as people avoid airline travel due to COVID-19.
There’s still a need to be safe, and we’re here with seven summer driving tips before you hit the road.
1. Have your car checked
Since we’ve all been staying home, we’ve been driving a lot less. That doesn’t mean your car hasn’t experienced some wear. In fact, leaving a car idle for a long time can lead to a variety of problems. The last thing you want is to have your car break down when you’re on the road.
- Take your car in for a full inspection
- Check oil and fluid levels
- Check the battery
- Check the tread on your tires and look for possible damage/wear
- Inflate your tires
- Check the engine
- Check the cooling system and replace old coolant/antifreeze
- Other things to check include transmission, power steering, windshield wiper fluid, brake lights, headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers, interior lights
Be sure to also check for recall notices to ensure all necessary repairs or parts replacements are made. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an online tool that will let you enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to find out if you need to have a part replaced.
2. Pack an emergency travel kit
It’s better to have an emergency kit and not need it. You’ll be glad you had the kit if you need it.
What to include in your emergency kit
- Cell phone charger
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Drinking water
- Nonperishable snacks and food
- Prescription medications
- Jumper cables
- Emergency flares and/or reflectors
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Basic toolkit
- Car jack
- Towels and blankets
- Paper towels
3. Have an emergency response number
A roadside assistance service is absolutely essential, but not everyone has one. You can sign up for a service like AAA. Many automakers provide roadside assistance as well. Have the number on your phone and keep a printed copy in the glove compartment. If you call AAA, be sure to have your card and account number handy, as they will ask for that information.
NOTE: It’s a good idea to keep a printed list of important numbers in case you have to call a friend or relative for help. You also want the phone number of the place where you plan to stay if you need to call for directions or assistance. Many of us no longer remember phone numbers since we have them saved. If you lose your phone or it gets damaged, you may be out of luck.
4. Be aware of vehicle weight and height restrictions
Are you going to bring a boat or RV? Are you bringing a lot of luggage or equipment for camping, fishing, rafting, or boating? It’s important to be aware of towing and payload capacities for your vehicle.
Towing capacity is the maximum weight a vehicle can pull or tow. Payload capacity refers to the maximum weight you can safely add to a vehicle’s cargo area. These capacities are different for every vehicle so before you load up, find out how much you can safely tow or bring.
5. Avoid distracted driving
Always keep your focus on the road. Anything can become a distraction from adjusting the radio to your kids arguing in the back seat. Avoid talking on your phone and never text and drive.
Be aware of different state laws regarding the use of mobile devices, too. You can get a ticket or worse in many states, though some do allow hands-free or Bluetooth calling.
6. Use your headlights and hazards when necessary
Of course, you should turn on your headlights at night. However, it is also recommended that you use them during twilight hours (just before sunset or before sunrise), anytime it rains, and during foggy conditions.
There is often some confusion about when to use your hazard lights. Most auto experts don’t recommend hazards in bad weather as it makes it difficult for other drivers to determine which lane you’re in. The same goes for heavy traffic or when you’re parked illegally.
There are three instances when hazards are recommended:
- If you get pulled over
- When changing a flat tire on the side of the road
- If your car breaks down and you’re waiting for a tow truck
7. Never leave children or pets unattended in a hot car
It’s never a good idea to leave children alone in the car. While it’s tempting to leave them sleeping while you run into the store, you never know what could happen. There is also the danger of heat stroke.
A car up can quickly turn deadly for young children and pets, especially in the summer. Temperatures inside can reach over 110 degrees in minutes, even if it’s not that hot outside. A report by NoHeatStroke.org found that 52 children died after being left in hot cars last year.
The danger is no less severe for your beloved fur babies. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in only 15 minutes.
Ensure you have adequate auto insurance
Be sure you have enough auto coverage to pay for repairs or even a replacement of your vehicle if you’re in an accident. You also want the right amount of liability coverage if you are ever at fault for an accident.
Avante Insurance can help you find the right car insurance for your needs and budget.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage or you’re interested in a quote, contact us today.
This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.