Keeping safe on your summer road trip

AAA predicted that more than 38 million U.S. residents would travel over the Memorial Day weekend this year, the unofficial start of the summer travel season. If that number is any indication, it appears that Americans are ready to do some road-tripping this summer.

Long summer road trips can be fun, of course. But they can also be dangerous. Car troubles can ruin a vacation, but tire blowouts and other mechanical failures can also cause serious injuries or, even, fatalities. This is why it is so important to take the steps to make sure that your car is ready for a long trip this summer. Parents magazine recently ran a checklist that all motorists should heed when preparing for their summer travels. Following the magazine’s advice will boost the odds that you and your family will remain safe on your summer vacation.

Have the right safety seats

Families driving with young children need to take a close look at their booster or car seats. Many of these safety seats are installed improperly, putting the youngest family members at increased risk. A stunning eight out of 10 car and booster seats are not installed correctly. Before you hit the road this summer, call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a free safety seat inspection center close to you.

Avoid driving while drowsy

It is also recommended that those who will be driving long distances get a good night’s sleep before their trip. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving while drowsy is a contributing factor in about 100,000 accidents every year. If you are driving and you do feel drowsy, don’t push on. Instead, find a safe place to stop and switch driving duties with another adult.

Have your car looked over by a mechanic

Take your car in for a tune-up before you hit the road. You should have your battery, tires, fluids, belts and air-conditioner checked by a qualified mechanic. Yes, you might have to budget in some extra spending money for this tune-up, but a car that is in good working order is less likely to suffer a breakdown in the middle of your trip.

Prepare for emergencies

Finally, prepare and pack an emergency kit if you are driving a long distance this summer. This kit should include such essentials as blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables, water, flares, a first-aid kit, fully charged cell phone and tools that you can use to change a tire. In addition, you might consider investing in a roadside assistance plan. This way, if you do face an emergency while on the road, you can quickly call for help. Just be sure that you know exactly what services your plan includes.