Holiday Drivers Should Plan Ahead for Safe Summer Road Trips By Tod Aronovitz | 07/02/13 | 0 Comment

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants motorists to enjoy safe summer road trips this July 4th holiday by having them take the necessary precautions to ensure vehicles are in optimal driving condition and by avoiding risky driving behaviors. The agency issued a safety advisory as the busy summer vacation driving season kicks off.

According the NHTSA, motorists should take the time to review safety tips and prepare their vehicles before they leave for summer getaways. The agency provides interactive summer driving tips for motorists to go through and offers the following recommendations to get drivers ready to hit the road.

  • Buckle your seat belts. Florida’s mandatory seat belt law applies to all cars, pickup trucks and vans built after 1968 operating on Florida roads, and requires that all passengers in the front seat must wear a seat belt and all passengers under 18 must wear a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt is one of the best defenses to prevent injury and death in a crash.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Every 45 minutes someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash, according to the NHTSA. Florida 2011 DMV records show there were 33,625 DUI convictions in Florida in 2011. In 2010, Miami-Dade ranked second in DUI convictions with 2,274 in the large Florida counties (Tampa’s Hillsborough County ranked first). For more information, see Florida’s DUI penalties. If you plan to drink, always choose a designated driver before you head out.
  • Avoid distracted driving. According to NHTSA data from 2011, 10 percent of fatal crashes and 17 percent of injury crashes were a result of distracted-affected. Distracted driving can be anything that pulls your attention away from driving, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, and using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a statewide ban on texting while driving this May, making it a secondary offense to read or send a text, email or instant message on a smartphone while driving, as reported in our June 6 blog post, “Florida Bans Texting While Driving.”
  • Protect child passengers by buckling them in the right car seat, at the right time, right away, and know Florida’s car seat law. According to the NHTSA, all children 13 and younger should ride in the back seat. Also, never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or the engine and air conditioning is running. Make a habit of looking in the front and back of the vehicle before walking away.
  • Watch for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. These roadway users are more vulnerable since they lack the protection of a car or truck, and collisions almost always result in injury.

Proper vehicle preparation is also important:

  • Regular maintenance like tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns before they happen. Schedule a preventive maintenance check-up with your mechanic if you haven’t already.
  • Tire care is important to avoid a flat tire or a blowout. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle to check your vehicle’s tire pressure, including the spare, at least once a month. Know your vehicle’s proper tire pressure and check it when the tires haven’t been driven on for at least three hours. Properly inflated tires can also improve gas mileage.
  • Belts and hoses should be inspected to ensure there are no signs of blisters, cracks or cuts in the rubber. Replace them is they show signs of wear.
  • Wiper blades are susceptible to summer heat, so they should be examined for signs of wear. Install new ones, if necessary before you leave.
  • When the engine is cold, check your engine coolant level to make sure it’s adequate. If it’s time to have your cooling system flushed and refilled, do it so there is no risk of your engine overheating.
  • Periodically check your vehicle’s oil level as well as brake fluid, automatic transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer. Make sure each reservoir is full and if you see any sign of fluid leakage, take your vehicle in to be serviced.
  • Make sure headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights are in working order. If you are towing a boat, RV or something else, be sure to check your trailer brake lights and turn signals. Make sure your trailer is also correctly secured.
  • Check the air conditioning system to ensure it is properly functioning.
  • Have an emergency roadside kit to prepare for the unexpected. Items should include: a fully charged cell phone, first-aid kit, flashlight, flares and a white flag, jumper cables, nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines.

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The Miami wrongful death law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW pursues justice for citizens across Florida who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. We can assist you with civil litigation, consumer class action litigation, whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death.

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