Whether you’re planning a big road trip or are simply tooling around town, it’s no fun to break down or be involved in a crash. The change in weather, however, can cause changes to your car — and your behavior — that could cause trouble.
AAA Northeast recently put together an extensive list of summer car and driver safety tips. Here are some highlights:
Check those tires. Seasonal temperature fluctuations cause changes to your tire pressure. Start the summer right by having your tires inflated to the auto manufacturer’s specifications, which are listed on the driver’s door jamb (don’t use the number on the tire). While you’re at it, check each tire’s tread depth.
Have your coolant flushed. Hot temperatures stress engines. A freshly flushed system with the proper coolant can limit that stress.
Do a pre-trip safety check. Have your hoses, belts, headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and fluids checked for safety and smooth performance.
Create an emergency items kit. Over 40 percent of drivers don’t have one, but you should. Include a first aid kit, drinking water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and batteries, emergency flares or reflectors, wiper fluid and a toolkit with at least a tire gauge and an adjustable wrench.
Don’t drive wearing flip flops. The soles and straps can easily get caught under your brake and accelerator pedals.
Take care when packing. Avoid obstructing your view or mirrors. Distribute the weight evenly. When using a roof rack, review its weight limit and check your route for height restrictions.
Never leave kids or pets alone in cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, interior temperatures can spike to 110 degrees even on a 60-degree day.
Avoid drowsiness. Get enough sleep before your road trip, even if it means leaving later. According to AAA, over half of drivers who crash due to fatigue experienced no symptoms before they fell asleep.
- Symptoms of drowsiness include yawning, irritability, restlessness, having trouble keeping your eyes open, being unable to remember the last few miles, drifting between lanes, and missing signs and exits.
- If you feel drowsy, pull over and rest. On longer trips, take a break every couple of hours. Share the driving and sit in the back seat when it’s not your turn so you can rest.
- Don’t underestimate drowsiness due to heavy foods, driving at night, or the effects of a hot, busy day.
Share the road. Pedestrians and bicyclists are out in force. Continuously scan for them — especially children. Motorcycles are also on the roads. Actively watch for them and give them plenty of room.
We hope these tips help you plan for a great summer. As always, drive safely.