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Memorial Day Road Trip: Ten Tips To Get There Safely


2011 Ford Explorer

2011 Ford Explorer

If your family will be among the estimated nearly 35 million Americans on the road this Memorial Day weekend, you'll want to be safe behind the wheel so that everyone arrives at their destination and back with no mishaps.

Here are 10 road trip safety tips to help ensure a safe holiday weekend.

1.    Inspect before you go. Make sure you inspect your car thoroughly before you head out on that road trip – even if you’re only going along a route you have traveled many times before or it’s less than 50 miles. The Car Care Council recommends checking the brake system, filters and fluids, hoses and belts, tires for proper air pressure and tread, condition of windshield wiper blades, and the gas cap (to make sure it fits tightly, isn’t damaged or missing). Just using some simple maintenance as a precaution can help avert a potentially dangerous situation somewhere down the road.  

Ford SYNC Destinations app

Ford SYNC Destinations app

2.    Plan out your trip. Don’t be that indecisive driver who makes the last-minute swerve to take an exit. Not only could you jeopardize your safety and that of everyone in your car, but you could be contributing to a major traffic tie-up or worse. Know exactly where you’re going by taking a few minutes to plan out your trip in advance. If you’ll need to stop for gas, map it out and check GasBuddy or other apps to locate convenient on/off routes to fill-up. Make use of your car's navigation system to stay on track. See related story on Road Ahead App in AllCarTech.

Ford MyKey Message Center-- Buckle Up

Ford MyKey Message Center-- Buckle Up

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3.    Make sure everyone in the car buckles up. It’s not just the driver and front seat passenger who need to buckle up. Before you depart on your road trip, check to ensure that everyone in your car has their seat belt securely fastened.  Remember that safety belts save lives.

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring

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4.    Be careful backing up. If you find yourself impatient, in a hurry, or just plain on automatic pilot, be careful of the tendency to forget to check the rearview and side mirrors before you back up. Maybe you did a quick visual sweep and then got distracted, checking your map or making a last-minute phone call before you set out. In those few seconds, another vehicle or a pedestrian could be in your blind spot or directly behind you. In fact, experts say that one in four preventable collisions involve backing up. As a precaution, do a walk-around your car before you get in – just to be extra sure.

Texting while driving

Texting while driving

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5.    Stay alert and pay attention. Driving requires all your concentration. When you’re distracted by talking on a cell phone or texting, applying makeup, eating, fiddling with the radio or CDs, you’re diverting your attention from driving. That’s a dangerous habit that could get you in trouble and is a leading cause of crashes. Even looking away for two seconds doubles your chance of an accident. Let others know you’re going to be unavailable while driving. Turn off cell phones and PDAs. In addition, if you’re driving a long distance, have someone else spell you for a bit or get out and stretch your legs at a rest stop or restaurant. Do not continue to travel if you’re sleepy or tired. That’s just inviting disaster.

6.    Take it slow – you’ll get there safer. Resist the temptation to make up time by going faster than the posted speed limit – even if it seems like everyone else is speeding. Drivers who speed faster than surrounding traffic triple their chances of getting into a crash. You don’t have to poke along at 10 miles under the limit. That can contribute to impatient drivers around you taking chances to pass. Just remain at the speed limit – or, at least, go with the flow of traffic. This will have the added benefit of saving gas.


 
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