It’s that time of year again. Summer is upon us, and so is summer travel. Gas, though rising slightly, is still low. If you live in Kansas City, Missouri, you are likely to pack your car this summer with luggage and hit the road. Whether it’s in-state travel to one of Missouri’s scenic state parks or across country, either east- or west-bound, you’ll be spending time on the road. And the road can be a scary place when traveling long hours. You may have passengers in the car distracting you with conversation, or you may have music play while you eat a snack, or worse, you might be interested to know what you friends are doing back home and send them a quick text… while driving. The longer you’re on the road, the more distracted and tired you become. Plus, the lower the gas prices, the likelihood there’ll be more cars on the road this summer, with all drivers experiencing the same distractions and fatigue. In fact, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, more car accidents occur over the summer than any other time of the year. Here are five tips to keep you, your family and friends, and other motorists safer this summer.
- Get your car checked out. Always have a car maintenance checkup prior to departure. The following is a checklist of things that should be done:
- Engine oil. Oil due date and oil level should be checked. If you are close to the due date, it’s recommended to go ahead and get the oil change done rather than risk gunky oil later that causes problems on the road.
- Transmission and differential fluids. Transmission and differential fluids due date and levels should be checked. The transmission and drive axle both require lubricant, so the supply levels for them should also be checked. If you don’t know the recommended due dates, check the owner’s manual. Generally, their lubricant supplies do not need to be changed as often as oil changes.
- Hoses. Rubber hoses last 10 years on a shelf but much less in a car. Make sure they are in good condition, and/or purchase a hose-patch kit to keep in the car just in case.
- Tire pressure and tread. The right amount of pressure for your tires will be listed in your car, not on the wheel (that number is the maximum amount of pressure the tire can hold and may not be appropriate for the car or the heat of summer travel). You can find the tire pressure number in the driver’s door, glove compartment, or fuel filler door. Low tire pressure wastes fuel and can cause the tires to run hotter due to the extra friction with the road. Checking tires also helps prevent flat tires, and according to AAA, flat tires are significant during the summer as opposed to any other time of the year with 1.1 million drivers calling for help during the summer for flat tires.
- Brake system. Brake fuel should be topped up to the full mark and should not be the color and consistency of maple syrup. As it gets older, brake fluid turns to the color of maple syrup and begin to rust the brakes.
- Battery. Battery life is generally around 4 years old. It’s easy to forget when a new battery was put in. Check to make sure that the terminals are corrosion-free. The negative and positive leads should be secure and tight, too, or else one can fall off while driving and harm your alternator.
- Watch out for others, especially cyclists and pedestrians. As mentioned already, there are more cars on the road during summer than any other time of the year. Likewise, there are more pedestrians and cyclists. They want to take advantage of the warmer weather, too. If you’re passing through a new city, stay extra alert, especially at intersections and crosswalks. If you see cyclists on the road, always make sure you leave plenty of space between you and them.
- Follow the rules of the road. Maintain speeds at the posted speed limit. Yield when you are required to yield. Stop when you are required to stop. Being on the open road in warmer weather has a tendency to make people feel freer, and that makes their feet a little heavier on the gas or makes their mind wonder so they neglect to pay attention as they move into another lane or are required to stop and a four-way stop intersection. Fight the temptation to dream and remain in control and alert of your surroundings.
- Pay attention to weather forecasts. Summer is rife with thunder storms, hail storms, dust storms, and even tornadoes. Wet roads are hazardous and contribute to 1.2 million auto accidents a year. Wet roads can cause you to hydroplane, which is especially dangerous because you have no control over your vehicle during hydroplaning. Oftentimes, too, strong storms leave you zero visibility. Check the forecast for where you’re going that day, and also check to see if there are any alerts.
- Don’t drink and drive, or do drugs and drive. Summertime travel has been deemed the 100 most dangerous days for driving, and in most part that’s because of drinking and driving during Memorial Day weekend, July 4th weekend and Labor Day weekend. If traveling at all during the summer, always drive defensively and be cautious of other drivers, but pay special attention on these three holiday weekends. It may be best not to drive in the evening, or even at all during these times. And if you are drinking yourself, definitely don’t drive. Either have a designated driver to get you home or a designated bed for the night where you’re drinking.
Now you are set with some healthy road travel tips for the summer. Enjoy the road, but be safe while you are doing it. If you are in a car accident during the summer months, particularly in Kansas City, Missouri, contact Krause & Kinsman. We have the experience and resources to help you. If you have questions, or want to discuss your case, call our skilled car crash lawyers in Kansas City today.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.