Summer is the time for fun: warm weather, vacation time, and family trips.
Unfortunately, summer is also the time for car accidents, as greater numbers of drivers take to the road. Before you and your file pile into your car, truck, or SUV, it’s important to keep safety in mind. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a number of tips for staying safe on the road this summer:
Before You Go
Before embarking on a road trip or long car ride to your vacation destination, it’s critical to make sure that you vehicle is in good shape. Regular maintenance, including oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations, are important to the overall health of your car. Before you go, you should perform the following safety checks as well:
- Tires: Check the air pressure and tread of your tires. This can help you avoid a flat tire or a blowout. The tread of your tire can be measured using the penny test. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln’s head facing you and upside-down. If you are able to see the top of his head, you need new tires.
- Belts and hoses: Check under the hood to make sure belts and hoses do not have signs of blisters, cracks, or cuts in the rubber. If so, it’s time to replace them. Hose connections should also be secure.
- Wiper blades: You don’t want to be caught in a rainstorm with non-functional wiper blades. If your wiper blades show obvious wear, get new ones.
- Cooling system: Make sure your coolant level is adequate to prevent engine overheating.
- Fluid levels: Make sure that oil, brake, transmission, power steering, and windshield washer fluids are adequate. If you need to get your oil changed, do so before hitting the road. If there are any leaks, get these repaired.
- Lights: Check all of your lights—headlights, brake lights, turn signals, etc.—to make sure that they are working.
- Air conditioning: Long trips in the sweltering heat can be miserable, even a health hazard for young children and seniors. Check to make sure that your AC is functioning.
- Car/booster seats: Make sure that any children in the vehicle are riding in age-appropriate car or booster seats. Children younger than 13 should always sit in the back seat. Our Passenger Safety page offers car seat recommendations.
During Your Trip
During your drive, remember these tips for avoiding accidents:
- Stop for breaks: Driver fatigue can cause accidents. In order to avoid this, stop for meals, stay overnight at a motel/hotel, or share driving with another adult.
- Share the road: Summer brings more motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Make sure to watch out for these roadway users. Remember that bicycles and motorcycles are lighter and have a much shorter stopping distance: leave more space between them and your vehicle. Pedestrians can be hard to see and can act unpredictably—especially if drunk or physically impaired—so drive cautiously, especially in pedestrian-heavy areas. Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Avoid dangerous driving behaviors: Don’t engage in distracted driving, which includes texting, talking on your cell phone, eating, drinking, and talking with passengers while driving. Use your seat belt. Don’t drink and drive.
In Case of Emergency:
Thorough preparation and diligent driving will make it less likely that you will experience a breakdown, or worse, a crash. But if you do experience either, it helps to have the following items in your car:
- Cell phone (to call for help, whether the police or a tow truck)
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Tire-changing equipment (jack, ground mat)
- Work gloves
- Basic repair tools
- Nonperishable food and medicine
- Extra windshield washer fluid
At Martinson & Beason, P.C., we wish you a safe and happy summer with your friends and family. And if you are involved in an accident with a careless or drunk driver, know that we are here to help you.