Summer Driving Tips for a Safe and Fun Road Trip
Essential Summer Driving Safety Tips

The foundation of summer driving safety is a well-maintained vehicle ready to handle the season’s unique challenges. At Mid-Columbia Insurance, we recommend taking these proactive steps to avoid breakdowns and accidents during the hottest months.

  • Start with tire maintenance, as the heat can impact pressure and traction. Check each tire’s PSI, including the spare, and inflate to the manufacturer-specified level, typically 30-35 PSI. Inspect tread depth and replace any tires below 4/32″ for optimal wet road grip.
  • Examine fluid levels, topping off motor oil, coolant, brake fluid, and wiper fluid. Low fluids can lead to overheating or brake failure in summer conditions.
  • Test your air conditioning and have it serviced if needed for passenger comfort and to prevent driver fatigue.
  • Inspect belts and hoses for wear and replace if questionable.
  • And don’t forget the check the battery, as summer heat can speed up corrosion and shorten life. Have it tested, especially if it’s over 3 years old.

Taking care of these basic maintenance items gives you a reliable vehicle for summer adventures.

Handle Summer Road Conditions Safely

Summer weather brings its own set of roadway hazards that Mid-Columbia Insurance wants drivers to anticipate for increased safety. Sun glare can temporarily blind drivers, so keep a pair of polarized sunglasses handy and make use of your sun visors. Be extra cautious during sunrise and sunset hours when glare is worst.

Sudden summer rainstorms can also decrease visibility and create slick road surfaces. Slow down, use headlights, and increase following distance on wet roads. Expect oily pavement for the first 10 minutes of rainfall, as the water brings residue to the surface before washing it away.

Construction zones and road repairs are common in summer, so watch for workers, reduced speed limits, and sudden lane closures. Take it slow and merge carefully.

Summer also sees more bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians sharing the roads. Be alert, especially at intersections and crosswalks.

Finally, learn to recognize signs of tire blowouts exacerbated by summer heat, like thumping sounds or the car pulling to one side. Slow down gradually and pull over to a safe area.

By driving defensively and adapting to seasonal changes, you’ll avoid dangers and navigate summer roads confidently.

Crucial Safety Tips For Summer Car Travel - Family together in car

Keep Vehicle Occupants Cool and Comfortable

Comfort and safety go hand-in-hand during summer car trips, so Mid-Columbia Insurance suggests these tips for keeping everyone cool and content.

  • Whenever possible, park in shaded or covered spots to minimize interior heat buildup.
  • Use a windshield sun shade or window sun screens to further reduce temps.
  • Roll windows down slightly when parked to promote ventilation.
  • Upon entering a hot vehicle, open doors and windows to ventilate before using AC.
  • Set AC to recirculate function once interior reaches a comfortable level for best cooling.
  • Consider a remote car starter to get AC going before you get in.
  • Keep sun shades for passengers in rear side windows and make sure kids and pets are situated out of direct sunlight.
  • Have a cooler stocked with cold water to keep everyone hydrated or freeze water bottles to use as ice packs.
  • Dress appropriately in loose, light-colored clothing and bring a change of clothes in case of excessive sweating.
  • Make frequent rest stops to unwind and cool off in air-conditioned spaces.

A little preparation ensures summer driving comfort for the whole crew.

Summer Driving Tips: Stay Safe On The Road

Prepare for Potential Emergencies

Since even well-maintained vehicles can suffer unexpected issues, we recommend packing a car emergency kit customized for summer conditions. It should include the following:

  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Flares/reflective triangles
  • Jumper cables
  • Tool kit
  • Duct tape
  • Engine coolant
  • Motor oil
  • First aid supplies
  • Sun screen
  • Spare clothes
  • Non-perishable food
  • Bottled water

Familiarize yourself with items and how to use them before an emergency occurs. Keep your phone charged and bring a backup power bank in case you need to call for assistance. Program numbers for roadside assistance and emergency contacts into your phone.

Review the steps for safely changing a tire and ensure you have a properly inflated spare and functional jack. If you’re uncomfortable changing a tire yourself, consider signing up for a roadside assistance plan.

Should you experience a breakdown, pull as far off the road as possible, turn on hazards, and place reflective triangles to alert other motorists. Call for help and remain with your vehicle.

In the event of overheating, pull over immediately, turn off the engine, and allow at least 30 minutes for it to cool before checking coolant levels. Never attempt to open the radiator cap on a hot engine! Add coolant or water only after fully cooled.

By anticipating trouble and preparing for common scenarios, you’ll be ready to handle most summer driving emergencies.

Plan Ahead for Safe and Enjoyable Road Trips

Summer is prime time for road trips, and a little planning can ensure a safe and memorable vacation. Before departing, inspect your vehicle thoroughly using the tips we’ve covered – tires, fluids, AC, wipers, etc. Address any issues that could put a damper on your trip.

Study your route in advance and familiarize yourself with directions. Have a GPS or navigation app, but keep physical maps as a backup. Build an itinerary with planned stops for food, fuel, and rest. Make hotel reservations ahead of peak tourist seasons. Share your plans with a trusted friend or family member, along with contact info for where you’ll be staying.

Check weather along your route and pack appropriately. Allow extra travel time in case of unexpected detours or emergencies. Resist the temptation to drive too long or while drowsy. Switch off with other drivers or build in overnight stops as needed.

“At Mid-Columbia Insurance, we want your summer adventures to be stress-free,” says owner Gary Paulson. “Prepare your vehicle, make a solid plan, and allow for some spontaneity and fun. Most importantly, stay alert and avoid distractions behind the wheel.” By following this advice, you’ll be ready for safe summer road trips to remember.

Summer Driving Tips For A Safe And Fun Road Trip

Adapt Defensive Driving for Summer Conditions

While defensive driving is important year-round, summer poses some unique challenges.

  • Heavier traffic, especially around events and attractions, provides more chances for collisions.
  • Maintain a generous following distance, a minimum of 3-4 seconds, and extend that in bad weather.
  • Be patient with vacationing motorists who may be distracted or driving erratically in unfamiliar areas.
  • Watch your speed, particularly in summer rains that cause slippery roads and reduced visibility. Hydroplaning is a risk at speeds as low as 35 mph.
  • Slow down, avoid hard braking or sharp turns, and don’t use cruise control on wet surfaces. Keep both hands on the wheel for maximum control in case of a slide or skid.
  • Construction zones require extra care, so reduce speed and merge well ahead of lane closures.
  • Be prepared for sudden stops and changes in traffic patterns.
  • Avoid distractions like cell phones, eating, or adjusting radio/GPS settings. Just a momentary lapse in attention can cause an accident.
  • Finally, don’t forget the increased presence of pedestrians in popular summer spots. Be vigilant around crosswalks, parks, and beaches.

By practicing these defensive techniques and staying alert, you’ll navigate busy summer roads with confidence.

Don’t Leave Kids or Pets in Hot Cars

Heatstroke can occur in minutes, even with seemingly mild outside temperatures or cracked windows. On an 85°F day, a car’s interior can reach 104°F within 10 minutes and 119°F within 30 minutes. Children’s bodies overheat 3-5 times faster than adults, and pets are similarly vulnerable.

To prevent these tragedies, Mid-Columbia Insurance recommends making it a habit to always look in the front and back seats before locking and leaving your vehicle.

Never leave children or animals unattended in a parked car, even for quick errands. If you see a child or pet in distress inside a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately and follow their instructions. 

Consider using reminder devices like a stuffed animal placed in the front seat when a child is in back, or a phone alert triggered by the rear door opening/closing. With a few simple precautions, we can all help stop needless hot car deaths this summer.

Your Guide To Safe Summer Driving - Couple driving convertible car enjoying a summer day at sunset

Stay Alert and Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving poses a significant risk during summer road trips and everyday travel. Mid-Columbia Insurance wants drivers to stay alert and focused to prevent accidents and arrive safely.

First, never use phones while driving, even hands-free. Let voicemail pick up or have a passenger take the call. If you must phone, text, or program GPS, pull off the road to a safe area first.

Limit other distractions too. Adjust seats, mirrors, music, and climate controls before driving. Secure loose objects that could roll and distract you. Avoid eating, drinking, grooming, or reaching for items while driving. If something demands your attention, safely pull over.

On long road trips, share driving duties to allow for rest breaks and prevent drowsy driving. Pull over for a quick nap if needed – just 20 minutes can restore alertness.

Be especially cautious when traveling unfamiliar roads. Have your route planned and studied in advance so you’re not struggling to read maps or signs. If you do get lost, don’t panic or let it break your focus. Safely pull into a parking lot to reorient yourself and get back on track.

By keeping your mind and eyes on the road, you’ll avoid common summer driving pitfalls.

As Gary Paulson of Mid-Columbia Insurance reminds drivers,

Summer is an exciting time for vacations and family fun, but there’s nothing more important than arriving alive. Prioritize vehicle preparation, attentive driving, and safety precautions so you can relax and enjoy the ride. Here’s to safe summer travels throughout Washington and beyond!

Mid-Columbia Insurance
– Your Trusted Insurance Agent

Our team of experienced agents, representing trusted insurers like Safeco, Progressive, National General, Dairyland, The General, Bristol West, and Foremost, is committed to helping you find the right coverage to protect you and your vehicle and provide peace of mind while traveling.

Contact us today at (509)783-5600 or click “Get a Quote” to learn more about our affordable auto insurance options and how we can help you safeguard your financial future against one random accident.

Drive safe, Drive smart, Drive insured with Mid-Columbia Insurance.