As Minnesotans are well aware, winter can do quite a number on your vehicle. However, most people do not think about the issues that can arise in the summer months. Summertime issues, though just as dangerous, are not as obvious to drivers. Before you head out on your next summer road trip, think about these summer safety tips:
Low tire pressure is the leading cause of flats and low gas mileage on your vehicle. Some may say that low gas mileage is not necessarily a safety concern, but anyone traveling with small children may disagree. Be sure to check your tire pressure and tread while your tires are “cold”, which is to say three hours before you drive.
- Belts, Hoses, and Wiper Blades
The summer heat makes rubber more susceptible to bulges, blisters, cracks, and cuts. Check your belts, hoses, and wiper blades for wear and tear before hitting the road to prevent issues down the road. Also check hose connections to make sure they are securely in place.
As with any time of year, it is important to make sure the fluids in your vehicle are filled. Summer means certain parts of your vehicle may be prone to overheat if not properly maintained. Check the water and coolant levels in your radiator, as well as brake, power steering and transmission fluid, oil levels, and windshield washer fluid.
Summer nights can lead to a more active night-life out on the roads. Be sure all your lights are functioning properly to warn animals and fellow drivers alike. Check headlights, brake lights, turn signals and emergency flashers.
- Air Conditioning
Perhaps considered a luxury, check your air conditioning system before heading out on any long road trips especially if you are traveling with small children or elderly family members who are more susceptible to heat exhaustion. A child’s temperature, for example, rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.
Summer Driving Tips:
- Drive Attentively
Summer trips can be especially distracting. The warmer weather brings all sorts of new traffic to the roads. Inexperienced teens are out of school, vacation drivers add more congestion, and motorcycles and bicycles share much more of the road during the summer months- not to mention the added number of pedestrians. When you are behind the wheel, you should always keep your full attention on the road.
- Minnesota’s Second Season
There is a joke in Minnesota about 2 seasons; winter, and (that’s right) road construction. Not only can this add delays to your route, but extra potential hazards as well. Be attentive and obey the changes in road restrictions in construction zones.
- School’s Out
Teens flood the roads during the summer months, visiting friends and basking in their extra freedom, but also be wary of other children playing outdoors. Especially smaller children, kids are not as concerned with watching traffic as they are chasing after a runaway ball or being the first of their friends to make it to the pool. Keep a special eye out for the presence of extra children enjoying their summer break.
- BUCKLE UP!!
This goes without saying; you should always wear your seatbelt. Every time. It is recommended that children under 13 should always ride in the back of the vehicle, and the smallest should be equipped with a car seat or booster. If you need help installing a proper seat for your child, check out the child seat inspection locator to find a location near you.
Lastly, many people equip themselves for winter driving when the snow and ice arrive, but you should keep an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle for the summer months as well. Important items include:
• Cell phone and car charger
• Work gloves and a change of clothes
• Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
• First aid kit
• Emergency blankets and towels
• Flashlight or road flares
• Jumper cables
• Tire pressure gauge
• Basic tools for repair
• Tire jack and a spare tire
• Extra windshield washer fluid
• Map or Atlas