Family summer driving vacations are upon us, and Labor Day is fast approaching, which means millions of motorists will be hitting the road. With more and more vehicles jockeying for position on the nation’s heavily traveled highways, the need for safety must be top-of-mind. The fact is, driving smart and safe can be simple.
All it takes is a little know-how. That’s why Blain’s Farm & Fleet has compiled this list of tips designed to help drivers avoid accidents and make sure this summer’s driving trips are as safe and enjoyable as possible.
So, this summer, take a tip from your BFF, it’s the better, smarter, safer way to go – and it will keep you prepared for just about anything you might encounter down the road.
1. If your tire blows out, don’t slam on the brakes. You could lose control completely. Instead, take your foot off the gas and concentrate on staying in your lane. Slow down gradually and pull off the road to a safe location.
2. If your car starts to skid, take your foot off the gas pedal and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
3. If you’re involved in an accident, stay calm, move out of traffic and find a safe place to wait for the police and emergency crews. Sometimes the safest place to be is in your car. Warn other motorists by turning on your flashers and raising your hood or trunk, and watch for traffic, fire and wires. Also, turn off the ignition of all vehicles.
4. When transporting children, always use seatbelts. Properly used, child safety belts are life preservers.
5. The safest place in the car for children is the back seat – in the center, if you have center belts – and in an appropriate vehicle seat. The general rule is that the greater the distance from the point of impact, the greater the protection.
6. If you come upon an accident, pass well beyond the scene and out of harm’s way.
7. If emergency crews are racing to a crash ahead of you, pull over to let them safely pass. And don’t assume the first ambulance or police car you see will be the only one. Watch for other emergency vehicles following closely behind the first.
8. Prevent driver fatigue on long trips by:
• Avoiding night travel, as the glare of the lights outside and from the dashboard increases the chance of highway hypnosis
• Keeping the car temperature cool
• Snacking frequently
• Taking frequent breaks
9. To help avoid being cut off, make sure you’re not driving in another driver’s blind spot. Glance into their rearview mirror. If you can’t see their face, assume they can’t see you.
10. When following trucks, don’t tailgate. Trucks typically can’t see anything less than 30 feet behind the trailer. Stay 100 to 250 feet back or follow the four-second rule: If you pass the same fixed point as a truck before reaching the count of four, you’re following too closely. And when passing a truck, change lanes only when you can see both of the truck’s headlights in your rearview mirror.
11. Don’t let Mother Nature fog up your glass: The unique water beading technology in Rain-X Original Glass Treatment enables raindrops to fly right off the windshield as you drive
12. Change your windshield wiper blades if they are skipping, streaking, splitting or squeaking, new wiper blades are a must to keep your visibility clear during everything from light summer showers to intense microbursts.
13. Chance of rain? A high-quality glass cleaner and rain repellant will clean and waterproof your windshield causing water to bead up and roll away. They will also help keeps those pesky bugs and road spray from sticking to glass. And don’t forget the rear window, too.
14. Restore your vehicles performance and fuel economy with a fuel system cleaner that helps return throttles, intake systems and fuel injectors to their like-new condition. You’ll save gas and eliminate trouble down the road.
15. Be prepared with a fire extinguisher. It may seem dramatic to have a fire extinguisher in your car emergency kit at all times, but a car fire can start from a simple short-circuit or an oil leakage. A fire extinguisher can be used to put out a small fire, preventing more damage to your vehicle. Always use caution in a vehicular fire; get away from the fire as soon as possible before attempting to put it out with an extinguisher.
A CAR EMERGENCY SHOPPING LIST
1. Cell phone and charger
If you’re stranded with your car in the middle of nowhere, a cell phone is going to be the number one item you need. Of course, the cell phone won’t be much help if the battery is nearly or completely dead. We suggest keeping a spare cell phone charger in your car emergency kit at all times. The best option is an emergency charger, which can be used without the power of your car.
2. A prepared emergency kit
Basic car emergency kits can be bought already put together. Many of these kits comes with a first aid kit, LED flashlight (with batteries), tire sealant, a poncho or blanket, tools such as a screwdriver or pliers, and jumper cables. They’re affordable and can be kept in a compact case for easy car storage.
3. Road triangles
When your car breaks down, the last thing you need is for oncoming traffic to not see you. Using a reflective emergency warning triangle to warn other drivers is important when you’re working on your car–or when waiting for a tow-truck. Place the warning triangle on the same side of the road, about 150 feet behind your vehicle. Make sure to put the triangle on the side of the road or shoulder, not in the way of traffic.
4. Water and non-perishable food
Car emergencies can leave you stranded for a long period of time. Having a supply of drinking water to stay hydrated is important. Granola and protein bars can provide energy if you are stuck with your car for a while. Jerky will keep for a very long time. Having an emergency food supply is especially important on longer trips where you may be stranded in desolate areas.
6. Gloves and rags
Working on your vehicle can be a dirty job, so you will definitely want rags and gloves in case of an emergency. Latex or disposable gloves are cost-effective options for a car emergency kit. Paper or cotton shop towels also come in handy.
7. Duct tape
Duct tape can be used for a variety of things, especially in a car emergency. If your first aid kit runs out of band-aids, use duct tape. Duct tape can also be used to hold together a broken head light or tail light, or a leaking hose.
8. Battery help
If your battery dies unexpectedly, your road trip will not be as joyful as you’d hoped. Be prepared with Jumper Cables and a battery jump starter. They will allow you to help yourself and others who are stranded with a dead battery.