According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 377 crash-related fatalities on U.S. roadways over Memorial Day weekend in 2012. The first long weekend of spring usually marks the beginning of increased traffic on the highways, as families and friends take summer road trips. There is danger associated with driving no matter how many other motorists are out, but it is crucial to be as prepared as possible to share the road during the upcoming months. A few precautions you can take include:

Vehicle Maintenance

Safe DrivingBefore embarking on any major road trip, your vehicle should be inspected and cleared for use by a professional. Have your tires checked for proper inflation and tread, in case of any slippery weather conditions. The coolant level is another important inspection to make – when the proper 50/50 coolant and water mixture is disrupted, your car has the potential to overheat. Along the same lines, schedule an oil change if you are nearing or are over the recommended 3,000-mile mark. Finally, hot temperatures can have a negative impact on the life of your car’s battery. Check to see that it is able to withstand the length of your trip by having it tested by a qualified mechanic.

Know Your Route

Even in the age of GPS technology, you should always review the directions of your route before you take off on a long trip. In most cases, the GPS will give you several options; even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, compare steps to see which route seems the easiest and safest. Having an idea of where you’re going also lessens the chance of an accident. When you’re prepared and alert, you will be less likely to cut in front of other cars to make a turn, potentially causing an accident, or to get lost if the GPS malfunctions.

Have an Emergency Kit

No one likes to think about the possibility of an emergency on a family trip, but you can never be too safe. Always carry a fully stocked First Aid kit in your vehicle with at least the essentials: bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, gloves, scissors and a First Aid manual. In addition to your medical supplies, typical emergency supplies include water, flashlights, batteries, non-perishable foods and a map. Nowadays, almost everyone carries a cell phone, but don’t forget the charger! Even if you’re in an area without service, your phone should be able to make a 911 emergency call. Always make sure you have a fully charged battery!

Use Caution

When driving on a highly congested roadway, the best thing you can do is drive defensively. Unfortunately, we have no control over the actions of other motorists. However, by being alert at all times, we can prevent potentially fatal accidents. When behind the wheel, always look ahead of you. If you’re focusing solely on the vehicle in front of you, you might miss a traffic stop farther ahead. It is also crucial to avoid all distractions, not just cell phones. Playing with the radio, conversing with your passengers and eating are all forms of distracted driving. If you find yourself becoming restless behind the wheel, have another person take over driving so you don’t succumb to these distractions.

Click It or Ticket!

May 18 – 31 is Click It or Ticket Enforcement Week. According to the Centers for Disease Control, wearing a seat belt reduces serious injury and death in motor vehicle accidents by nearly 50 percent! It is for the safety of you and your passengers to buckle up, especially when driving during a time that is known to see an increase in crashes. There are primary or secondary seat belt laws in every U.S. state except for New Hampshire, which means you could be pulled over in 49 out of 50 states for neglecting to wear one as a driver.

Finally, be prepared to have plenty of company on the roadways. You are less likely to experience stress or anger on your road trip if you expect the route to be crowded. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to be blindsided by an accident! However, if you are involved in an auto accident on your road trip, contact Trantolo & Trantolo for help