Summer road trip safety tips

The open road awaits

But first, some safety tips

family in back of SUV

Plans are made, your bags are packed and the perfect road trip playlist is ready to go. It’s finally time for a getaway and some well-deserved R&R.

As anxious as you may be to hit the road, nothing will ruin the start of a vacation faster than car trouble. Check out the following tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help ensure you’re prepared and safe during your upcoming travels.

Before you go

Check for recalls. You may not realize that your vehicle has been recalled and is in need of repairs. Use NHTSA’s free lookup tool and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years. Your VIN is listed on your insurance card, or here’s where to find it on your vehicle.

Get your car serviced. You should always have your car routinely serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, but it’s especially important before traveling. Schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with a mechanic to check the following:

  • Battery and charging system
  • Headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and interior lights
  • Trailer brake lights and turn signals (if necessary)
  • Coolant level in your vehicle – make sure it meets the manufacturer’s specifications; check for cooling system leaks, test the coolant, and drain or replace old coolant if needed
  • Fluid levels of your oil, brake, automatic transmission or clutch, power steering and windshield washer
  • Belts and hoses – look for signs of bulges, blisters, cracks or cuts
  • Wiper blades – check for signs of wear and tear
  • Air conditioning performance
  • Floor mats – make sure they don’t interfere with the accelerator or brake pedals
  • Tires – ensure they’re filled to the manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure listed in the owner’s manual

Stock up. Of course, you should have a supply of snacks and drinks because no one wants a hangry passenger, but what about real emergencies? Here’s what NHTSA recommends for your roadside emergency kit:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jack and ground mat for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and duct tape
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water and meds
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Maps
  • Blankets, towels and coats

While traveling

Wear your seatbelt. Every trip. Every time.

Follow the rules. Don’t text or drive distracted – no exceptions. Follow the speed limit and always drive sober.

Plan ahead. Plan for when you’ll stop to fill up your fuel tank during longer trips to avoid running out of gas.

Keep kids safe.

A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s does, making them more vulnerable to heat stroke. Never leave a child alone in a vehicle – even if it’s only for a few minutes, the windows are partially open, the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.

Ensure car seats and booster seats are properly installed. Check out NHTSA’s child passenger safety recommendations and how to select the right car seat. Make sure kids under 13 are buckled up and in the backseat.

One last (very important) item for your road trip checklist: Make sure your auto insurance is up to date so that you, your passengers and your vehicle are properly protected. Contact your Horace Mann representative if you have any questions about your auto coverage before your trip.

Enjoy your time away and travel safe!

Source:, Summer 2021

Horace Mann Insurance Company and its affiliates underwrite Horace Mann auto insurance.

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