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Summer Driving Tips

Summer’s almost here! The sun will finally come out of hiding, and people will too.

The crowds beginning to swell at the beach, in parks, and even on roadways, make for some challenging driving conditions. More people are out and about, on foot, bike or skateboard, or by car, motorcycle or RV, increasing the risk of an accident. The summer heat isn’t exactly kind to your vehicle either.

Still, there’s no stopping the allure of a summer drive. To help ensure your drive is safe, keep your attention on the road and your surroundings, as well as on these safety tips.

Summertime Safety Behind the Wheel

Just like winter, summer has its own set of seasonal hazards that require your complete attention as a driver. Here are some to be particularly mindful of:

  • People: In your neighborhood, in parking lots, on city streets and especially around parks, beaches, or any popular summer attraction, people are outdoors and often more focused on their enjoyment than on personal safety. Children are out of school and might be playing in the street of a quiet neighborhood or chasing a basketball bouncing away from a driveway hoop. In summer, there is simply more human activity outside, and it’s up to you to slow down and stay alert.

  • Bikes and motorcycles: Bicyclists and motorcyclists are also more active in good weather. Pay attention and take extra care in areas that attract cyclists.

  • Glare: The sun’s glare is bright in summer, and even harsher when the sun is low and in your face. Have your sunglasses handy if you’re not already wearing them, and be ready to flip down the visor so you don’t spend even a second driving while blinded by the glare.

  • Roadway obstacles: A busy roadway is no place for a sofa. But with scores of people completing summer moves, you might just encounter one. Thunderstorms and tropical storms can further clutter the roads with debris, tree limbs, or even downed power lines. Keep an eye out for roadway obstacles and plan as far ahead as possible on how to safely maneuver around them.

  • Heatstroke: Finally, don’t forget the dangers of summer parking. Children and pets left in parked cars are vulnerable to injury or even death from heatstroke. At an outside air temperature of 60 degrees, a car’s interior temperature can reach 110 degrees, which is a lethal level for children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rolling down car windows does not provide sufficient cooling, so don’t be tempted to leave children or pets alone in a vehicle for even a minute. It can be lethal—and in many states illegal—to leave children and pets alone in a vehicle. To help keep your car cool for when you return, park in the shade or place a removable sunshade in the windshield.

Road Trip Safety

A road trip with family and friends can make summer memorable for both the right and wrong reasons. Make it memorable for the right reasons with some careful planning and driving. Use this checklist to ensure you, your family and friends reach your destination safely and ready to have some fun.

  1. Inspect your ride: Have a mechanic give your car, bike, or RV a full inspection before you go. Be especially mindful of coolant and oil levels to help protect your engine, and remember that tires often deflate with significant temperature changes, such as during the transition from spring to summer. If you have a bike or car carrier, or trailer attached to your vehicle, be sure everything is secure before taking off.  

  2. Check your insurance coverage: Is your insurance ready to help out if you injure a pedestrian on your summer drive? What if you crash into a tree or run out of gas? If you’re not sure for what types of scenarios you’re covered, check in with us before heading out on your trip.

  3. Pack your emergency supplies: We know space is precious when packing for a summer road trip, but don’t neglect to include some important necessities in case of emergency. These includes water, food, first aid supplies, a tire pressure gauge and tire change kit, a flashlight, towels, maps and jumper cables. Be sure to keep your phone charged and gas tank full in case of trouble. Don’t forget plenty of games, books, snacks, and activities to keep the passengers distracted—and to keep them from distracting you.

  4. Plan your route: Map out how to reach your destination and how much time it will take to get there, and be sure to leave plenty of room for unexpected delays. Minimize unexpected delays by checking the Department of Transportation website of the states where you’ll be traveling for information on planned road work before you hit the road.

  5. Take your time: Don’t get frustrated when unexpected delays—or fascinating roadside attractions—put you behind schedule. Keep to the speed limit, and don’t risk shortcuts that aren’t clearly marked. Take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs and rest your eyes while kids run off excess energy, and switch drivers when you’re drowsy.

There’s no better time to be on the road than when the sky’s clear and the sun’s shining. We wish you safe travels and a wonderful summer!