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Do's and don'ts of summer road trips

Posted at 1:35 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 15:35:18-04

Once school got out, do you remember those epic high school and college road trips? Nothing but good tunes, junk food and cares tossed to the wind, right? Well, everything changes once you put your kids in the car; now you're not only responsible for your own life when you take the wheel, but theirs, as well!

Personal injury attorney Craig Swapp of Craig Swapp & Associates said between Memorial Day and Labor Day, dangers increase on the road.

"Here in Utah the number of fatalities on our roads nearly double during that time, which is commonly referred to as the '100 Deadly Days of Summer,'" he said. "There are more vehicles on the roads, plus the long stretches that those vehicles are being driven. That leads to more exhausted and easily distracted drivers, which leads to more accidents."

While it is more risky to travel during this time, Craig said don't cancel your road trips, just consider these suggestions:

1. Stay Awake - It’s essential to be physically and mentally prepared before taking the road trip and vigilant while driving. Make sure to get a good night’s rest before driving long stretches, and be willing to take frequent breaks. Experts suggest a 15-minute break for every 2 hours of driving. Don’t hesitate to pull over to take a nap or switch drivers if you feel at all sleepy or exhausted.

2. Stay Alert - Distractions seem to increase the longer a driver is on the road. We all know kids can get increasingly restless and noisy on long drives and it’s important to not let distractions in the backseat or on the cell phone to pull your attention off the road. It’s easy to get more and more complacent as the miles roll on. Consider putting cell phones on silent mode and out of sight. Don’t be afraid to safely pull over and let the kids stretch their legs if they start becoming a distraction.

3. Be Prepared - We all know just about anything can happen out on the roads, especially on a long trip. Cars can break down. In Utah and the surrounding states, there are long stretches of rural roads where cell phone coverage may be non-existent. Drivers need to be prepared to take care of themselves and their families in these situations, especially those driving older vehicles. The American Automobile Association (AAA) warns that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to end up stranded on the side of the road. So, make sure you:

- Take the family vehicle in to an auto shop for a thorough maintenance check before the journey. Make sure tires, oil levels, vehicle lights, and brakes are in good condition.

- Have a good emergency kit in your vehicle. The DMV suggests a first aid kit, flashlight, multipurpose tool, jumper cables, road flares and bottled water as the bare basics. It’s also a good idea to include non-perishable foods and battery chargers.

- Review basic car repairs before leaving. The ability to safely change a flat tire can make a huge difference.

- Let someone you trust know about your travel plans with specific departure and arrival times. If possible, give them updates as you arrive at different points on your trip. This could prove an invaluable help to rescue crews if worse comes to worse and you become stranded.

"While accidents are an inevitable part of vehicular travel, taking simple precautions and being alert at the wheel go a long way in making your family road trip a safe one," Craig said.

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