Preparing for Your Summer Road Trip
Breit Cantor Grana Buckner—June 5, 2018
Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road
There are few things more exciting than the start of summer and the promise of an exciting vacation. With so many beautiful sites to see in Virginia and throughout the United States, it’s no wonder that many people choose to embark on road trips at this time of the year. However, the increase in tourism and total cars on the road can make summertime a dangerous time for road trippers. It is important that you take the proper precautions to make sure your trip is a safe one. Making sure your car is in top shape and taking care to employ defensive driving technique can help you and your family avoid car accidents and instead enjoy a happy and safe vacation.
Before heading out on your road trip, experts recommend that you check the following:
- Tires: A flat tire will certainly put a damper on your road trip. In fact, tire problems aren’t just annoying—they can be incredibly dangerous. Tire blowouts, especially those that occur at high speeds, are one of the most common causes of car accidents. Before leaving for your trip, take the time to inspect all four tires on your car, as well as your spare. Look for any unusual bumps or bulges on the sidewalls, check to see if the tread is worn, and make sure the air pressure is within the acceptable range (check your vehicle’s operating guide to find this range). Make sure you not only have a spare tire handy but that it is inflated and in good condition as well. You’ll also want to make sure you have a car jack and a tire iron in your car in the event that you get a flat tire. If you notice anything unusual with your tires or any signs of a leak, make sure to have a professional take a look at the issue before your trip.
- Battery: A dead car battery can be a serious hassle, especially if you’re road trip takes you to a remote area. Before you leave, make sure your car’s battery is charged and that the terminals are clean. Corrosion on the battery terminals can prevent it from receiving or holding a charge. If your car’s battery is old or nearing the end of its useful lifespan, change it before you head out on the road. It is also a good idea to keep jumper cables in your car and make sure you know how to safely use them in the event of a dead battery.
- Brakes: Working brakes are crucial for a safe trip. Before you leave, have your car’s brakes inspected by a mechanic. Worn brake pads should be replaced and any other issues with brakes should be fully resolved prior to your trip.
- Oil and Fluids: When is the last time you had the oil changed in your car? If you’re due for an oil change, make sure to take care of it before your road trip. It’s also a good idea to check all other fluids, such as the wiper fluid, power steering and brake fluid, and transmission fluid, if necessary.
- Dashboard Lights: If one or more dashboard warning lights are on in your car, don’t wait any longer to have them addressed by a professional mechanic. It is not wise to continue driving with warning lights on, as this can easily exacerbate problems. Make sure you have your automobile manual handy so that you can easily identify—and resolve—any dashboard warning lights that may come on during your trip.
- Lights: Make sure your car’s headlights, high beams, brake lights, and emergency lights are all working correctly. Improperly working lights can put you at serious risk of an accident, so it is important that you resolve any issues with your car’s lights before your trip.
- Coolant and Radiator: The last thing you want to be dealing with on your summer road trip is an overheated car. Yet, many automobile owners, especially those with older cars, find themselves stranded on the roadside when their cars overheat. Avoid this problem by making sure your car has the proper coolant levels. Additionally, if it’s been a while since you’ve flushed your car’s radiator, make sure you do so prior to your trip.
- Windshield Wipers: Summer storms are not uncommon in certain parts of the country. Avoid getting caught in the rain by making sure that your car’s windshield wipers are in good condition and are working properly. Old windshield wipers tend to do more harm than good. Luckily, if you haven’t changed your windshield wipers in a while, you can purchase new ones relatively inexpensively at an auto parts shop or big box store.
- Horn: When used correctly, car horns can be instrumental in preventing accidents. Make sure your car horn is working properly before setting out on your road trip. If there are any issues with your car horn, have a mechanic take a look at it before your trip.
- Laws: Driving laws can vary from state to state. In some states, certain drivers are allowed to use a cellphone while driving whereas, in other states, they can only use a hands-free/Bluetooth device. Motorcyclists are not required to wear a helmet in all 50 states. Highway speed limits may vary depending on where you are. If you are taking a road trip out of state, make sure that you are aware of all applicable driving laws and that you always practice safe driving behavior.
With the proper safety precautions, you can enjoy a safe, fun, and stress-free road trip this summer. Unfortunately, accidents do sometimes still happen. If you were involved in a car accident, contact the Virginia Beach injury attorneys at Breit Cantor Grana Buckner for a free consultation. We can help you understand your legal rights and options.