Get Your Car Ready
Safe driving all year round, including in the summer months, starts with a well-maintained vehicle. Check the following before you set off for your destination, and allow plenty of time in advance to take care of any issues.
All vehicle fluids
Check the following to make sure levels are where they should be. Otherwise, you risk your vehicle overheating.
- Motor oil (and check the filter while you’re at it)
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Engine coolant
- Power steering fluid
Check your tires: Are they properly inflated? If not and your tire pressure is low, you could have a blowout interrupt an otherwise lovely road trip.
No A/C can mean driver fatigue and discomfort for all in the vehicle. Make sure your cooling system, including your cabin air filter, is ready for the road.
Battery fluid evaporates at a quicker rate in the summer, and batteries die more quickly, as well. Clean any corrosive buildup from battery terminals and table clamps, and check the clamps to make sure they don’t move.
If you’re headed on a long trip, chances are you could be driving at night. Make sure your brake lights, headlights, and turn signals are all working properly.
Check your fluid levels and ensure the wipers operate correctly (it may have been a while since you last used them!). Also make sure your blades aren’t dried and cracked, and be sure to replace them if they are.
Pack Your Vehicle
You don’t just need the right outfits for your trip; you also need to pack essentials and a few extras in your vehicle for the long road trip.
Pack these items in your emergency kit:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Properly inflated spare tire
- Cell phone charger
- Towels (in case you need to change a tire or have another roadside emergency)
- Flares or reflective triangles
- Tools, including a screwdriver and wrenches
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable foods and snacks
It’s also a good idea to keep things like face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in your vehicle.
Keep Passengers Safe & Happy
Long car trips can be uncomfortable and exhausting, as much as they are also fun. Plan to keep your passengers safe and as content as possible with these tips.
Seat belts & safety seats for children
Make sure each passenger has one and that they are buckled in correctly before departing. Children should be secured into the correct safety seat for their size and age.
Keep things secure in the vehicle
Your passengers aren’t the only things that should be secured. So should anything that could fly through or shift inside the car and become hazardous. This includes coolers, dogs, and other items.
Plan for frequent stops
As much as you want to get to your destination efficiently, stopping for stretching, real food and bathroom breaks can do wonders for passenger morale. They’ll also reduce driver fatigue.
Plan distractions for passengers — but don’t get distracted by them yourself
Handheld devices (phones, tablets, and e-readers) can be useful for keeping passengers occupied, but beware getting distracted by them as the driver.
It can be nice for passengers to be able to bring their pillow and a blanket, favorite treats, or other comfort items along. In addition, consider things like tissues, napkins, a roll of toilet paper, sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm. Every passenger should have water and snacks.
Plan Your Trip
Spontaneous road trips are enjoyable, but not if you become lost or aren’t prepared. Know in advance where you’re going and what the route is.
Make sure yours is up-to-date and that you have the proper documentation in your car.
Map your route
Check your route in advance and make sure you input it into your cell phone, so online map services can alert you to trouble on your route.
Be aware of local laws & conditions
Watch for signage, speed limits and construction along the route. Slow down in construction areas and be alert to changing conditions due to traffic, weather, or other incidents.
Whether you need to pull over and rest, eat a snack and drink some caffeine, chat with passengers, listen to music or podcasts, do what you need to do to remain alert and avoid drowsy driving.
After all of this and special attention to driving safety, you should arrive at your destination safe and sound and enjoy a well-deserved vacation.
Stay safe for summer driving and driving all year with Stop and Go Driving School. We’re ready to help you learn all the safety tips and driving rules you need to know, no matter what time of year it is. Learn more about our courses.