As summer vacation is upon us, now is the perfect time for road trips. With the fun of road tripping and family vacations comes the responsibility of traveling safely. To ensure that your family’s trips put safety first, keep these vehicle safety tips in mind.

Maintain the health of your vehicle

Road trip safety begins with properly maintaining the health of your vehicle. If your vehicle is not properly cared for, the reliability of travel is in question. Blown tires, battery issues, and a host of other car ailments can be prevented with attention and routine maintenance.

Get regular maintenance

Scheduling regular maintenance on your vehicle improves safety, will ultimately save money, and can extend the life of your vehicle. Most car manufacturers recommend maintenance every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Visiting your mechanic on a regular schedule can help with preventive measures for your car’s health. A mechanic will check belts, engine components, and batteries to see if they are all healthy. It is better to find out through the mechanic that your battery is dying, rather than being surprised by it in a random parking lot while on vacation.

Routine maintenance can also uncover hidden problems you wouldn’t otherwise know about. Modern cars have advanced electronic systems that can report problems through a diagnostic system. Tests like these can prevent breakdowns that you would otherwise not see coming.

Get inspections before long trips

Before setting out on your sojourn, be sure to have an inspection performed on your car. Items checked during routine maintenance will be checked again, but a thorough inspection will also include a once-over of tires, windshield wiper fluid, windshield wiper health, and other small yet important factors for safety. The inspector will also check oil and top off all fluids to ensure you won’t run out along your trip. No one wants to spend their vacation at a mechanic.

Check your tires

One of the most important aspects of safety on your vehicle is the health of your tires. Tires are often not replaced or rotated as often as they should be, and it’s dangerous to have tires with worn tread because they can easily rupture while you are driving. At high speeds, a tire blow-out can be life threatening. If there is only one aspect of your vehicle that you spend money on, let it be your tires.

Tire tread can also be checked at home, without the help of a mechanic or tire company using only a penny. Insert the penny into each tire’s tread with Lincoln upside-down, facing you. If you can see the president’s entire head, it’s time for new tires. If a portion of his head a covered by tread, your tires are fine for now.

Get to know your car

A good tip for avoiding unforeseen breakdowns is to know your car, how it sounds, and how it behaves. If you hear a noise you don’t recognize, or the car isn’t driving as it normally does, you may want to take it into the shop. By just hearing you describe a noise, a mechanic may be able to determine where it is coming from and work to diagnose a problem. To guarantee that the mechanic will hear the sound, you may want to record it with your phone. We’ve all described a strange sound to a mechanic, only to have the vehicle miraculously cure itself while you are there. Avoid this by recording the sound as it occurs.

Driving safety tips

Unfortunately, traffic fatalities are on the rise, despite safer cars being manufactured. There are many reasons for this increase, but focusing on driver safety can help protect you and your family while you’re on the road.

Focus on driving only

Distracted driving, whether it be from texting, eating, or applying makeup, brings with it a significant increase in the chance for accidents. As a driver, pay attention to only the road and never try to multitask. If something cannot wait, find an exit where you can pull off the highway. Never text and drive. Even if you feel that you are a careful driver, others may not be, and you need to be prepared to react to the unexpected.

Make a safe driving plan

For long road trips, you should always create a general driving plan. Find out where food, rest stops, and hotels are along the way. This will not only prevent you from trying to Google these stops while driving, but it will also create less anxiety along the way.

Wear your seatbelt

This should go without saying, but always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers do, also. You are much more likely to survive a traffic accident if you are wearing a seat belt.

Have an emergency safety kit

Keep an emergency safety kit in your vehicle for your own use, as well as to help others. Be sure that the safety kit is intended for use in a vehicle. These safety kits contain first aid supplies specifically designed for car accidents, and have flares to put in the road to avoid further crashes. Investing in good emergency safety kit can save a life, so buy wisely.

Keep the number of a good towing company

If something should happen along the route, hopefully it will be minor. For minor car issues or accidents, you always have the option to call a towing company. If you are in an unfamiliar area, this will always be the quickest and most effective means to get help. Towing companies offer an array of services for the traveler, such as:

  • Vehicle lockouts
  • Jumpstarts
  • Tire replacement at your location
  • Vehicle extraction
  • Flatbed towing
  • Fuel delivery

Towing companies can very often fix whatever issues you may be having with your vehicle. If they are not equipped to fix an issue, they will be available 24 hours a day to take you to a facility that can help you. Research towing companies at your destination and along the route ahead of time, so that if you find yourself in need of assistance, you will have a number readily available.