Warm weather means it's time for summer vacation. Every year, families around the world pack up their vehicles for a summer road trip. Road trips can be an exciting way to explore the country, but it's essential to follow some necessary safety precautions while on your journey.
These road trip safety tips will help you keep your family secure during your next adventure.
Road and weather hazards, such as oil leaks, sun glare, potholes, and pedestrians, can wreak havoc on your vacation. Oil collects on roadways, making them slippery after a rainy day. Sun glare is a problem at any time of year because it can seriously impair your vision while driving. Potholes are an unfriendly souvenir of the past winter, caused by freezing and thawing. They can damage your tires, giving you the dreaded flat tire that can seriously delay your trip. You need to be aware of your surroundings – motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians are much more prevalent on the roads in warmer weather.
Preparation and planning, including proper vehicle maintenance, is always essential. Check your vehicle’s coolant levels and washer fluid before leaving and the air pressure on all of your tires, including the spare. An emergency kit is an essential travel item when traveling in any weather. At the very least, your emergency kit should include jumper cables, a first aid kit, a flashlight, nonperishable snacks, drinking water, flares and reflectors. Do not entirely rely on your GPS or other navigational aids to get you through your trip, as they are not completely foolproof. They may not have the latest information, or satellite coverage may be unavailable. Use your smartphone to download a map of your expected travel area beforehand, or bring a compass with you as a backup.
If you intend to rent a vehicle when you travel, check with your local regulations and your insurance agent. Your insurance policy may not provide coverage for your use of the vehicle, especially if you are traveling internationally. Check with your local agent to see if your auto policy includes rental reimbursement coverage, which covers rental costs should your vehicle become unusable due to a covered comprehensive or collision loss. The use of recreational vehicles, including mopeds and golf carts, may require separate coverage. Homeowner policies generally cover personal property anywhere in the world. However, there are limitations when the property is usually located at another residence.
Alert someone of your travel plans, especially if you are driving in remote areas. However, it is not wise to post the information on Facebook or other social media sites. You do not want to leave your home and possessions exposed to unwelcome visitors during your absence. Stop your mail and newspaper, or have someone collect them to make the house look occupied. To avoid water damage, turn off the water supply to washing machines and toilets. Unplug appliances such as the television and other electronics.
All passengers in the vehicle should wear a seat belt at all times. Not only is this a safe and smart practice, it is the law. If you are traveling with small children, be sure to install the car seat correctly. A Centers for Disease Control test of 3,500 car seats determined that 72% of car seats are improperly installed in ways that could seriously increase a child’s risk of being injured in a crash.
Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Even on relatively cool days, a car can heat up quickly. Cracking the windows does not help. According to San Francisco State University, since 1998, 38 children per year die from hyperthermia (heatstroke) after being left in cars in the United States. More than half of these deaths occurred because the child was “forgotten” by their caregiver. Get in the habit of checking your back seat to ensure you did not leave a child there. Pets in vehicles are subject to the same hazards of death by hyperthermia (overheating). According to petfinder.com, about 1/3 of dog owners and 11% of cat owners take their pets on vacation. If you must bring your pet with you, do not leave them in the vehicle.
Keep your family safe. Never drink and drive, and never text or phone while driving. According to the CDC, in 2009, 181 children aged 14 and younger were killed in alcohol-related crashes. Of these, about one half were in the vehicle with the impaired driver. Even hands-free devices can be distracting. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the multi-tasking required by driving and talking on the phone results in a distracted driver. They have termed this “inattention blindness” – the driver can look at something, such as a red light or stop sign, but not see it. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for a ban on all portable electronic devices while driving.
A summer road trip can be a dream, as long as you’re following the proper safety precautions. Your local Rockingham Insurance agent can help you find the coverage you need to keep your family safe during your adventure.
This article is provided courtesy of MSO®, Inc. (The Mutual Service Office, Inc.).MSO provides custom rate, form and statistical services for all property and casualty insurance lines except workers compensation. This includes customized forms and manuals for insurers, MGA’s and agents/brokers. MSO’s goal is to provide a simpler, more profitable way to underwrite risks. Additional information is available at www.msonet.com.