As summer vacations get under way the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and your state's Dept. of Transportation urge drivers to take the proper precautions before and while driving on the roadways.

During the summer months, there is usually an increase in the number of vehicles on the nation’s roadways. Families take to the highways for vacations and extended road trips. And while these excursions can start off as a happy occasion, they can too often result in tragedy due to negligence and failure to properly execute the necessary steps to ensure safe travel.  

Your trip should start with good communication and preparation.

Tell family members where you're going; what route you're taking and when you plan to get there. Agree on times to call and update your progress.  Make sure your cell phone battery is fully charged and that you have cash, not just plastic.  Bring snacks and bottled water. 

When planning your route, don't exhaust yourself by trying to go 'non-stop'.  Everybody needs to take a break; stretch their legs; get a bite to eat... Remember, your vacation is supposed to be 'leisure' travel.  You're not meeting a client; you're not working and you have no deadline.  So any ETA you consider should be viewed as wishful thinking at best.  It's not a mandate.

Driving longer than you're accustomed makes you irritable and/or drowsy.  That's a big mistake.  You must avoid 'drowsy driving' if you want to keep yourself and your family safe.  Try not to be driving at a time of day that you're customarily asleep.

  • Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. – Everybody aboard must agree to wear their seatbelts every time they are riding or driving in your vehicle. Wearing a seatbelt is also the best defense against a drunk-driving related crash. For more information on seatbelt safety please. .
  • Don't Drive After Drinking – Drunk driving deaths spike during the holidays. Every 51 minutes, someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash. Be responsible – don’t drink and drive. If you plan to drink, choose a sober designated driver before going out. 
  • Check your Tire’s Air Pressure, Tread Wear, and Spare - Keep a tire gauge in the glove box and check your tires well before you want to hit the road.  Obviously, if any tires look too worn, replace them now for your own peace of mind.  Don't forget to check the spare tire! 
  • Keep Children Safe In and Around Your Vehicle – Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the car seat or booster seat best suited to protect them. There are other dangers to children in and around cars that you should know. One of those dangers is hyperthermia, or heat stroke, from being left unattended in a hot vehicle. 
  • Know when the rest areas are coming up and use them.  They're put there especially for leisure travelers and it's your tax dollars that keep them operating.