Driving somewhere to celebrate the 4th of July Independence Day weekend? You won’t be alone. According to AAA, previous years have typically seen 30 to 40 million people on the road for this most explosive of holidays. With so many driving, it should come as no surprise that it’s also one of the deadliest holidays on the road. Okay, now that we have your attention with gloom and doom, it’s also a weekend where a lot of other things could happen on the road that could turn a long weekend into a long nightmare. Accidents do happen, and police also are out in force looking for every traffic violation they can spot. Added to that, accidents and tickets could increase your car insurance rates and you have good reason to be diligent with your driving. Read these 10 tips for a better chance at a safer road trip this 4th of July:
- Plan your route. In Wisconsin, there are two seasons: Winter and road construction season. Plan your route well from beginning to end, being sure to check for road closures and detours.
- Ready for the road. Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. Check the tire pressure, get the oil changed if you’re due, top off fluids, make sure lights are working, etc. Look at the tread on your tires. While they’re not considered “bald” until they’re down to their last 2/32”, your traction and control can be greatly affected way before they get worn down this far. Additionally, thin tires are more susceptible to blowouts. Don’t take chances with your tires.
- Be prepared. If you end up on the side of the road or at a rest stop with something that’s easy to fix, you’re going to kick yourself for not packing it. Bring along your spare tire, car jack, tire pressure gauge, extra motor oil, coolant, transmission fluid, washer fluid – whatever you could need that’s easy to get and can fit in your trunk.
- Load vehicle properly. This is particularly important if you have an SUV. If you get into an accident, anything that isn’t properly secured can become a dangerous projectile. Load your vehicle properly with as much stuff in the trunk as possible and as little in the cab. If you have an SUV, a safety cage or safety barrier for your cargo area is well worth the investment.
- Allow plenty of time. This can be the mistake of many travelers. Underestimating how much time it will take to get you where you want to be can ruin your plans. If you leave late, don’t try to “make up time” by speeding. A ticket will cost you dearly, it may raise your car insurance rates, and serious accident could cost you more than money, it could cost you your life. Do everyone a favor and take your time and enjoy the journey.
- Secure your pet. Some people like to drive with their pets in their lap, sitting in the passenger seat with its head hanging out the window or worse, loose in the back of a pickup truck. All of these options are dangerous for you, other people and your dogs. It is best for them to ride in a crate (secured to the seat or to the bed of a truck with belts). Another good option is in the back of an SUV behind a cargo barrier. Pet seat belts aren’t recommended, however, as recent studies have shown that most could cause more harm than good.
- Buckle-up. It’s not only a good idea to keep you safe, it’s the law. In Wisconsin, all drivers of motor vehicles and all passengers over the age of four (or who weigh more than 40-60 pounds) must wear safety belts. Children wearing safety belts may also need appropriate booster seats. Younger infants must be in car seats.
- Put the phone down. Don’t talk or text while you’re driving. Such distractions cause thousands of accidents every year. Additionally, texting while driving is a primary driving offense in Wisconsin, meaning law enforcement can pull you over and ticket you for it.
- Stay alert. If you’re going to be driving for several hours, late at night, or both, you want to be extra careful that you’re not drowsy. If you’re driving late, there could be deer or other animals crossing the road. There could also be drunk drivers. You stand a better chance of avoiding them (and damage to your vehicle) when you’re alert. If you get drowsy, pull over someplace safe and switch drivers or take a nap.
- Don’t drink and drive. Speaking of drivers who may or may not be drunk, don’t drink and drive. It’s not a good idea, morally, socially or financially. You car insurance rates going up would be the least of your worries. You could go to jail, your car could be impounded and we all know the permanent scars a fatal accident can leave.
Now go out, have fun this holiday weekend, but take a few minutes to ensure it’s a safe and happy weekend for everyone! The father-son team at Smith Insurance has advised residents of Big Bend, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and surrounding communities for over 20 years. Smith Insurance is an independent insurance agency meaning that we deal with a number of insurance companies. For you, that often means greater choice and better prices. Contact us at 262-662-4327 to talk about your insurance needs. Or meet with us in person. Our office is located at W230 S8735 Clark Street, Big Bend, WI 53103.