A record-breaking 44.2 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles over the Fourth of July weekend, with the majority of them getting from here to there by car. You may well be among them.
Whether you’re headed to Big Bend, Beaumont, or Boston, you’ll need to be careful on the roads, especially since the Fourth is the deadliest holiday weekend for car crashes. You definitely don’t want to encounter any unexpected fireworks — the vehicular kind, that is.
“Traveling on a major holiday is risky for many reasons,” says Chuck Farmer, vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “In general, there are more people on the roads, and drivers may be navigating areas beyond their regular commuting routes. There’s a high incidence of alcohol use, which sharply raises the risk of crashing.”
Here are some tips from AAA that are aimed at ensuring your Fourth goes forth without any roadway bumps:
- Be sure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you head out on a long drive.
- Map your route ahead of time. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
- Keep valuables in the trunk or a covered storage area.
- If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Accompany them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
- Keep roadside assistance information on hand.
What follows are additional roadway safety reminders from insurance company Nationwide:
- Focus on driving at all times. That means putting down your smartphone while you’re driving.
- Slow down. Speeding decreases your reaction time in case you need to hit the brakes and increases the severity of a crash.
- Assume other motorists will do something crazy, and always be ready to steer clear of them.
- Maintain a two-second cushion between you and the car in front of you. Bump that up to four seconds if the weather is lousy.
- Adjust your seat, mirrors, and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
- If you want to gulp down a cup of coffee or chow down on a burger, pull over to do it. Eating and drinking while driving distracts you from the task at hand.
- Make sure you and your passengers are buckled up or properly situated in child safety seats.
- Avoid driving when you’re tired. Drowsy driving can be deadly.
- Don’t down a can of beer and then get behind the wheel. Driving drunk puts you, your passengers, and everybody else on the road in harm’s way.