Some Tips to Ensure a Safer Road Trip

Focus on Safety

Summer Driving Tips

Of the many great things about summertime, few match the fun of a family road trip. Before you hook up that new boat or camper, or hit the road with your family or friends in your car, SUV, pickup, or RV, take the time to review these summer travel 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.

Before You Go

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 don't know the service history of the vehicle you plan to drive—schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with your mechanic right away.

Check for Recalls

Owners may not always know that their vehicle has been recalled and needs to be repaired. NHTSA's VIN look-up tool lets you enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to quickly 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: www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Buckle Up—Every Trip, Every Time. All passengers must agree to wear their seat belts every time they are riding in your vehicle. Set the example by always wearing your seat belt.

Protect the Children

When traveling with children, take every precaution to keep them safe.

All children under 13 should ride in the back seat.

Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the correct car seat, booster seat, or seat belt that is appropriate for their size. All passengers in your vehicle should be buckled up on every trip, every time.

Click on NHTSA's child passenger safety recommendations to find out how to select the right seat for your child's age and size. To learn more and find a free car seat inspection site near you, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm.

Never leave your child unattended in or around your vehicle.

Always remember to lock your vehicle when exiting so children do not play or get trapped inside.

On the Road

Stay Alert

Remember that long trips can be tough on children—and, in turn, tough on you. Plan enough time to stop along the way to take a group stretch, get something to eat and drink, return any calls or text messages, and change drivers if you're feeling tired or drowsy. Consider staying overnight at a hotel or family resort. It can make the trip easier and less tiring for everyone—and more of an adventure, too. Bring along a few favorite books, videos, or soft toys to keep little ones content and occupied. The trip will seem to go faster for them, and keep you from being distracted every time they ask, "Are we there yet?"

Long-distance driving can be tedious, and it's tempting to look for something to distract you to make the time pass faster. But when you're the driver, your only responsibility is to keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and concentration on the task of driving. No loss of life–neither your passengers nor any other road users–are worth a phone call or text. And remember, law enforcement officers across the Nation are now using innovative strategies to aggressively enforce their State distracted driving laws. 

Share the Road

Warmer weather attracts many types of roadway users, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

While they have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as every motorist, these road users are more vulnerable because they do not have the protection of a car or truck.

Leave more distance between you and a motorcycle—3 or 4 seconds' worth. Motorcycles are much lighter than other vehicles and can stop in much shorter distances.  

Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows other road users to anticipate your movement and find a safe lane position.

Be mindful of pedestrians. Things to remember as a driver:

  • You can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere. 
  • Distracted walking is becoming part of the distracted traffic epidemic. Keep your eyes open for distracted pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians can be very hard to see – especially in bad weather or at night. 
  • Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it's not marked. This will help drivers in the other lanes see the pedestrians in time to stop.
  • Cars stopped in the street may be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross. Do not pass if there is any doubt.
  • Do not assume that pedestrians can see you or that they will act predictably. They may be distracted, or physically or mentally impaired.
  • When you are turning and waiting for a "gap" in traffic, watch for pedestrians who may have moved into your intended path.

Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active. Drive the way you want people to drive in front of your own home.

Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors

Distracted Driving

The focus of every driver, at all times, should be driving.

Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from driving. The most obvious forms of distraction are cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, and using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.

Set down some safety rules with your co-drivers before you hit the road. These rules should include refraining from activities that take your eyes and attention off the road. Insist that your co-drivers agree to make every effort to move to a safe place off of the road before using a cell phone—even in an emergency.

Impaired Driving

Alcohol and drugs can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory – the skills critical for safe and responsible driving. Deaths caused by impaired driving are preventable, and too many lives are tragically cut short in traffic crashes involving drunk and drugged driving. Impaired driving not only puts the driver at risk – it threatens the lives of passengers and all others who share the road. Every year it causes the deaths of thousands of loved ones. Be responsible; don't drink and drive. Illegal drugs, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications, can be just as deadly on the road as alcohol. If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver before going out. Get NHTSA's new SaferRide mobile app from the iTunes store or Google Play. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or friend for a ride, and will even help users identify their location so they can be picked up.

Speeding

Obey all posted speed limits, or drive slower if necessary based on weather or traffic conditions.

Summer Safety

Keep Kids Safe In and Around the Car

You should know that there are other dangers to children in and around cars. One of those dangers is hyperthermia, or heatstroke. 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 or with the engine running. Vehicles heat up quickly; if the outside temperature is in the low 80s°, the temperature inside the vehicle can reach deadly levels in just a few minutes—even with a window rolled down. A child's body temperature rises three to five 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 still be out of view but 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.

Be sure to lock your vehicle's doors at all times when it's not in use. Put the keys somewhere that children can't get to them. Children who enter vehicles on their own with no adult supervision can be killed or injured by power windows, seat belt entanglement, vehicle rollaway, heatstroke or trunk entrapment.

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