Guess what I’m doing for the 4th of July?
It’s not because I don’t have a sense of wanderlust or an excuse for a getaway. It’s simply that we’ve planned a big family vacation (this is a big deal because we never do big summer vacations) starting on July 5th.
In hindsight, I’m not sure why we picked that date (which, by the way, we picked just a few weeks ago). We’re usually last minute travelers and we tend to pick dates that just seem to work. We didn’t really think through that fact that we’ll be heading up to Maine during the highest point of their high season AND we’ll be vacationing during a popular vacation week.
And we don’t love crowds either.
Although we’re flying most of the way to get to our destination, we will be on the road. To find the cheapest way to get to Maine that didn’t take an extremely long day of travel, we found some inexpensive flights to Boston. From Boston, we’ll drive to Portland, Castine, Bar Harbor, and then finally back down to Portsmouth, New Hampshire before heading back home.
All that to say we’ll be driving a fair amount this week and we’ll be staying vigilant. Here’s why.
What You Need to Know About Your Summer Road Trip
AAA projects that a record breaking 37.5 million Americans will hit the road this Independence Day weekend, which means the roads will be more crowded than ever on two of the deadliest driving days of the year (July 3 and 4)1. Despite the facts, a recent survey by Michelin found that long days, warm weather and better driving conditions may lull summer drivers into a false sense of safety:
- Summer is statistically the most dangerous season to drive, yet three-quarters of drivers (75%) falsely believed summer to have fewer accidents than other times of the year2
- Two in three (67%) drivers feel safer driving during the summertime, citing better road conditions (83%) and nicer weather (81%)2
- Drivers are 3x less likely to check the condition of their tires during summer (despite heat being the enemy of tires) 2
- Drivers are 3x less likely to be vigilant (e.g., alert and focused on immediate surroundings) while driving during summer months, compared to winter2
How do you stay safe? Michelin reached out with some tips that will help you all year round but especially during this summer vacation season.
Michelin Summer Driving Safety Tips
Michelin encourages all drivers to remain vigilant and safe summer roads with these summer driving tips:
- Give your car a checkup: Ahead of summer travel season, conduct a safety check of your vehicle to make sure it is in prime condition. Check oil and fluid levels, windshield wipers, headlights and battery ahead of your trip.
- Check your tires: Check to ensure your tires have sufficient tread with a simple Penny Test, and check your tire pressure. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticeable and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. Don’t forget to check the air in your spare, too.
- Practice safe following distance: Always be aware of the cars immediately surrounding you, including those in front. Giving yourself enough room to brake or maneuver in an unexpected situation is a crucial component to defensive driving.
- Focus fully on the road ahead: While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet.
- Carry an emergency kit: Always carry a well-stocked emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. Program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider.
1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Trend and Pattern Analysis of Highway Crash Fatality By Month and Day, March 2005
2. This is an independent omnibus survey of the driving habits of 1,000 adults (18 years or older) living in the continental United States, fielded between May 8th and 9th, 2017.