Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Driving Tips (and Some Hazards to Watch For)

Summer is officially here! Although we Californians love our warmth and sunshine, it’s not without its hazards—especially when it comes to summer driving. Some examples: 

New drivers: More new drivers, generally young and inexperienced, will be on the road when school is out. 

Visitors: Visitors generate more traffic on the roadways. They’re often unfamiliar with the area and may be distracted looking for landmarks and exits. 
Car trouble: High temperatures may create problems for tires and engines. 

Fires: Forest and grass fires generate smoke, reducing visibility, and sometimes cause road closures. More emergency vehicles may be on the road in a fire area. 

Unsecured loads: Summertime moves and home improvement projects mean that more people are driving with loaded vehicles. Sometimes those loads are not secured well, and items fall onto the roadway. 

Bikes and pedestrians: More bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians are on the roads. Note: Bikes and pedestrians are not “hazards” per se (we love bicyclists and pedestrians!), but they sometimes move erratically. Watch for them and give them plenty of room. Unlike motorists, they’re not encased in several tons of steel.

Despite the hazards, summer is a terrific time to get out and enjoy our beautiful state—whether you’re just going across town or taking an epic road trip. Here are some simple summer travel tips to help ensure that you arrive safely:

Hot vehicles are deathtraps: Never, EVER leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle, even with the window open. Even for a few seconds. Don't do it. EVER.

Plan ahead: Plan, map and estimate the duration of your trip ahead of time and let others know your plans. You can estimate the cost of gas for your trip here.

Practice patience: Expect to encounter roadwork, delays and detours. Check planned lane closures and real-time traffic conditions before you leave so you can make smart choices about your route.

Inspect your car: Inspect the engine, battery, hoses, belts and fluids for wear and proper levels. Check your tire air pressure, including the spare. Also check the AC—triple digits with no AC is no fun.

Be prepared: Prepare an emergency roadside kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight and plenty of bottled water. Check out this list of items your kit should contain (scroll down).

Use your safety belt: Buckle up — every trip, every time.

Steer breakdowns out of lanes: If you have a flat tire, engine problems or a fender bender, drive out of traffic lanes and off the highway, if possible. Freeway shoulders are not safe for repair work.

Report problem drivers: If you see a drunk or dangerous driver, call 911.

Want more driving tips? Check out the Office of Traffic Safety website.