Summer Travel – Before You Go

It’s time for summer adventures!  Your map is ready, hotel is booked, and you are checking off the list of things to do before you go.  Don’t forget to make sure your car is ready to keep you safe on the road!

Check your tires and tire pressure.  Inspect all four of your tires, and your spare tire.  Look for cuts, gouges or bulges.  Check the tire tread depth.  When testing your tire pressure, make sure the vehicle has been sitting, is on a flat surface, and the tires are cool.  Your owner’s manual will help you know the recommended pressure (PSI) for your car.  You may also find it on the sticker inside of the driver’s side door.

Visit https://www.NHTSA.gov/recalls.You can enter your car’s 17-digit id number (VIN).  It will help you learn if your vehicle has had a safety recall, and what to do about it.  A vehicle recall is a safety-related issue, which means it is important to have the repair done right away.

Be mindful of high temperatures.  Heatstroke can happen, no matter where a car is parked – even in the shade, and even if the windows are cracked.  On average, 37 children die per year due to heatstroke in cars.  That’s about 2 per week!  Temperatures are often 50º higher than outside of the car.  80% of the total heat rise happens in the first 30 minutes.  Never leave a child alone in the car – not even for a minute.

Secure your load.  If you are traveling with an open truck or trailer bed, make sure your load is well secured (back, sides, and top).  Tie cargo down with rope, netting, or straps.  Don’t overload your vehicle or trailer.  Large objects can be tied directly to the vehicle or trailer.  Think about covering the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting.  Make sure nothing in your load can shift as your vehicle moves, or if you would have to suddenly brake hard.  Always check several times to be sure your load is well secured.  Ask yourself if you would feel safe driving behind this vehicle.

It is good to secure your inside load as well – especially if you are traveling with an open hatchback.  If you brake quickly, or have a crash, anything loose can fly around inside the car and cause injury.

Other things to do before you go:

  • Belts and hoses. Extreme temperatures make the materials in hoses and belts break down faster.  Make sure there are no bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts.  Replace them if they show obvious signs of wear.  Make sure they are all tightly connected and secure.
  • Have a mechanic inspect your coolant levels and leaks.
  • Fluid levels. Check fluid levels in your brakes, transmission, power steering, oil, and windshield washers.  Be sure the fluids are full, and inspect for any leaking.  If you have an electric car, there may be additional fluids.
  • Batteries. Have a mechanic test your battery for proper charge.
  • Try all headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and dome lights to ensure they are working.
  • Wiper blades. Look for signs of wear or warping.  If wiper blades aren’t in good condition, they won’t work well when you need them to.
  • Floor mats. Make sure they lay flat, and that they don’t get in the way of the break or gas pedals.
  • Pack your emergency kit. Visit https://www.ready.gov/car to see what is important to have in your car in case of emergency.
  • Plan your route. You should know your route before your trip.  If you need to look at a map while traveling, have a passenger help you or find a safe place to pull over.
  • Buckle up. Every trip.  Every time.  Have all of your passengers buckled as well, or in properly installed, age-appropriate car seats.
  • Do not drive distracted or impaired. Protect yourself, and others in your car, so you can arrive safely at your destination.

To learn more about vehicle safety as you travel, visit https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/safety-topics/vehicle-safety.  Stay safe, and enjoy your summer adventures!

This press release is brought to you by Four Corners Health Department and the Nebraska Highway Safety Office.  For questions or to learn more, call Four Corners at 402-362-2621 or 877-337-3573. You can also email us at info@fourcorners.ne.gov.

To stay up to date on what we are doing and how you can be involved, check out the events page on our website found here: https://fourcorners.ne.gov/community-ed-training/upcoming-events-workshops/

Visit the Four Corners website at https://fourcorners.ne.gov. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel @fc_healthdept!

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