(ARA) - For many Americans, summer vacation involves the automobile and the thrill of driving to the beach, lake, campground or picnic site. However, all of this excitement can cause some drivers to forget to prepare for emergency conditions or accidents. One of the leading manufacturers of emergency safety kits, Justin Case, recommends these simple steps for making the trip safer and a lot more enjoyable.
1. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination. You can alleviate unnecessary stress by planning for activities such as meals, sightseeing and bathroom stops. The more people you are traveling with, the longer it will take to complete scheduled activities. Second only to car trouble, the last thing anyone wants when traveling on the road is a ticket. Inspect taillights, headlights or other items that might result in a ticket. Long weekends are among the riskiest times to travel with congested highways, including vehicles that are towing boats and trailers, so slow down!
2. Ensure everyone is buckled up. Have child safety seats checked for proper installation. Never let children move around the back of a moving vehicle or travel trailer.
3. Keep your distance between vehicles. Assume other drivers may attempt risky maneuvers such as sudden lane changes. Drive defensively!
4. Pulling boats and trailers requires more time to enter and exit highways. No one should have to use their brakes as a result of you pulling out in front of them. Part of the skill involved in driving is being able to accurately estimate how fast another vehicle is traveling, and how long it will be until it catches up to you. Don't just pull out and assume the other person will immediately see you and be able to slow down in time.
5. If you are traveling away from home, you should have a cellular phone with you. Avoid talking on a cellular phone while driving; such conversations can divert your attention from the road. Make sure children know how to use the cell phone to get help in an emergency, calling 911 or the operator.
6. A cramped vehicle is uncomfortable for the driver and passengers. Don't overfill your vehicle with luggage. Good visibility is essential. Choose a roof top carrier if necessary; they're available in either temporary or permanent models.
7. Leave the highway and get some rest during longer periods of travel. Don't stop exercising just because you're on the road. In fact, taking a walk, going for a run or doing any physical activity will greatly reduce the stress of a road trip. This is especially necessary when traveling with children and pets. And don't forget to carry lots of extra water for you, your pets and your vehicle.
8. Travel during off-peak times if possible in order to avoid traffic congestion. When passing through cities, try to avoid morning and afternoon rush hours.
9. Make sure your vehicle is ready for a long road trip. Check your oil, tires, battery, cooling system and all belts and hoses. Check to see if all the fuses are there and in good condition. Always carry extra fuses, at least one of every size. Your tires also should be inspected periodically for unusual wear. Look close for cuts, punctures, embedded screws, nails and other objects, big or small. It is equally important to keep your spare tire up to par. You do not need to find out that it is low in air pressure when you need it most.
10. A tire blowout can happen without warning, but knowing how to react improves the chances of being able to keep yourself and others safe.
a) Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
b) Keep wheels as straight as possible. Jerking the steering wheel may cause the vehicle to lose control and roll.
c) If braking is necessary, brake slowly and lightly. Do not slam on the brakes. If your vehicle has ABS brakes, practice using them in an empty parking lot. Many people are surprised by the feel of ABS brakes and think they are not working properly. Never pump ABS brakes.
d) Reduce your speed to 15 mph or less before pulling onto the shoulder of the road.
e) Get the car as far off the road as possible before exiting the vehicle. Turn on your four-way (hazard) flashers.
Breakdowns, especially when traveling far away from home, are stressful and even frightening situations. "Most people don't think that they can ever prepare for events like this," says Michael Joyce, President of Justin Case products. "But taking a few steps in advance can save you time, emergency service costs and a headache."
Justin Case recommends the following:
- Have an emergency kit ready for many different situations. "Emergency kit needs vary with circumstances," says Joyce. "The kit you have should meet your individual needs and equip you for emergency situations." Justin Case has developed emergency kits for every budget, from simple to comprehensive kits containing light sources, jumper cables, tire inflators, heat generation and retention sources, and other items to attract or provide help. They also include first aid kits, something often overlooked by travelers. Regardless of your destination, this first aid kit is added assurance that you can deal with emergency situations for you and your vehicle during travel and after you reach your destination.
- Justin Case also incorporated 24-hour roadside assistance as a natural addition to their safety kits. This safety kit insurance policy guarantees that if the kit cannot help resolve your roadside problem, the 24-hour roadside assistance program will. This free roadside service is available throughout the U.S. and Canada and allows unlimited service calls or three tows per year. The services provided include battery boosting, towing up to twenty-five miles, delivery of fluids, lockout services and tire changes.
Planning road trips can be stressful as well as exciting, but planning ahead improves your ability to deal successfully with emergencies and problems. Take the time to prepare for breakdowns, delays and small mishaps and your trip will be smooth sailing, instead of a bumpy road ahead.