These helpful tips by NHTSA.gov are recommended by John Backus, director of Emergency Services at United Hospital Center.
For many of us, summertime usually means vacation travel. Even though pandemic precautions will undoubtedly affect your travel plans again this year, now is still a good time to review these summer driving safety tips. Prevention and planning may take a little time up front, but will spare you from dealing with the consequences of a breakdown—or worse yet, a highway crash—later.
Keep Kids Safe
In and Around the Car
There are other dangers to children in and around cars that you should know. For example, heatstroke can occur when a child is left unattended in a parked vehicle or gains unsupervised access. Never leave children alone in the car—not even for a few minutes. Vehicles heat up quickly. Even if the outside temperature is in the 70s and the windows are cracked, the temperature in a vehicle can rapidly reach deadly levels. A child’s body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than that of an adult.
Before you back out of a driveway or parking spot, prevent backovers by walking around your vehicle to check for children running and playing. When using a backup camera, remember that kids, pets, and objects may be out of view but still in the path of your vehicle. When children play, they are often oblivious to cars and trucks around them. They may believe that motorists will watch out for them. Furthermore, every vehicle has a blind zone. As the size and height of a vehicle increases, so does the “blind zone” area. Large vehicles, trucks, SUVs, RVs, and vans are more likely than cars to be involved in backovers.
Stock Your Vehicle
Even a well-maintained vehicle can break down, so it is advisable to put together an emergency roadside kit to carry with you. A cell phone tops the list of suggested emergency kit contents since it allows you to call for help when and where you need it. Suggested emergency roadside kit contents include:
- Cell phone and charger
- First aid kit
- Flares and a white flag
- Jumper cables
- Tire pressure gauge
- Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
- Work gloves and a change of clothes
- Basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak)
- Water and paper towels for cleaning up
- Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Emergency blankets, towels and coats
Before You Go
Check for Recalls
Owners may not always know that their vehicle has been recalled and needs to be repaired. NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool lets you enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years. Check for recalls on your vehicle by searching now: NHTSA.gov/Recalls.
Get Your Car Serviced
Regular maintenance such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns. If your vehicle has been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, it should be in good condition to travel. If not—or you do not know the service history of the vehicle you plan to drive—schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with your mechanic right away.
Know Your Car
Read your vehicle’s manual to familiarize yourself with the features on your vehicle — such as antilock brakes and electronic stability control — and how the features perform in wintry conditions. When renting a car, become familiar with the vehicle before driving it off the lot.
Plan Your Travel and Route
Before heading out, make sure to check the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Do not rush through your trip, and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely. Always familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system, and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones
Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Ensure that everyone else in your vehicle is buckled-up in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
Protect the Children
- Remember that all children under age 13 should always ride properly buckled in the back seat.
- Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the right seat for their ages and sizes. See child passenger safety recommendations to find out how to select the right car seat for your child’s age and size. To learn more and find a free car seat inspection station near you, please visit the Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator.
- Never leave your child unattended in or around your vehicle.
- Always remember to lock your vehicle and to keep your keys out of reach when exiting so children do not play or get trapped inside.
On the Road
Keep your gas tank close to full whenever possible, and, on longer trips, plan enough time to stop to stretch, get something to eat, return calls or text messages, and change drivers or rest if you feel drowsy.
Avoid Risky Behaviors
You know the rules: Do not text or drive distracted; obey posted speed limits; and always drive sober. Both alcohol and drugs whether legal or illicit can cause impairment. It is illegal to drive impaired by any substance in all states – no exceptions. Alcohol and drugs can impair the skills critical for safe and responsible driving such as coordination, judgment, perception, and reaction time.
Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.