Fourth of July celebrations will almost certainly be more fun this year, but it also means more drivers on the road. The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest travel holidays of the year, mostly due to drivers neglecting common car safety practices. And you might be in even more danger if you have to drive on stress-inducing highways.
Fortunately, drivers can still have safe and enjoyable holidays by preparing for the trip’s challenges in advance. These safe driving tips provided by Safety and Health Magazine can be applied to any major holiday of the year.
Wear your seat belt
It might seem like common knowledge, but some people still forget (or choose not to wear) their seat belts. Seat belts provide the most protection during head-on collisions, cutting potential injuries in half. In recent years, automakers have also been designing seat belts that can keep your seat belt secure during an accident.
Everyone should stay buckled up for the duration of the trip, no matter how short. Any kids along for the drive should also have their own car seats if needed. Some SUVs like the Honda Pilot can even fit three car seats across the second row.
Avoid distracted driving
It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that you shouldn’t text and drive, but cellphones aren’t the worst distraction. Turning your music up too loud can make you less aware of what’s going on outside the vehicle. Passengers who are too rambunctious can take the driver’s eyes off the road.
Even if you keep your eyes and ears toward the road, other drivers might not be so careful. Always be mindful of the surrounding cars, especially if they start behaving strangely. Also, don’t pay too much attention to interesting cars, collisions, or police altercations. Rubbernecking for even a few seconds can cause you to get into an accident of your own.
Pick a designated driver
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks at an Independence Day party but keep away from the wheel afterward. Allow yourself ample time to sober up before driving again, or designate someone else to drive you home safely.
It’s also nice to have someone to take over the driving if you’re feeling unwell or sleepy. Certain medicines like cough syrup or opioids can also make you drowsy behind the wheel. If you’re traveling alone, it’s best to pull over and wait until you feel better before driving again.
You might be excited to reach your Fourth of July destination, but it’s never worth getting into an accident. It endangers the lives of both you and your traveling party, plus any drivers around you. Additionally, speeding has become such a problem in recent years that speeding ticket fines have increased.
When you’re traveling at high speeds, it’s more difficult to slow down when needed. You should always maintain a safe following distance from the car ahead of you, especially in treacherous weather. You might also have to brake suddenly for a pedestrian or animal that crosses your path.
Be prepared for anything
Before and after you reach your destination on the Fourth of July, make sure your vehicle is good to go. That means checking the gas tank, rearview mirrors, the oil or coolant levels, and tire pressure. If your vehicle has navigation installed, input any directions you’ll need the night before.
If you plan on driving during any leg of the journey, make sure you’re well-rested before getting behind the wheel. If possible, it’s also a good idea to start traveling to your destination a few days before and after the actual holiday. That way, you can escape the inevitable congestion on the highway and enjoy more relaxation time.