Ten Summer Road Trip Driving Safety Tips


Jerry Wang Photo














Source: Jerry Wang Photography.

Ten Summer Road Trip Driving Safety Tips


Before You Go

  1. Check the pressure on your vehicles’ tires, including the spare, monthly. A good way to do this is to use a tire pressure gauge that you keep in your car. The correct pressure for your tires is listed on the driver’s doorframe and in the vehicle’s owner manual.
  2. Make sure to inspect your tires for signs of excessive or irregular wear. One nifty test for this is the Lincoln’s head test. Simply place in the tire’s tread with his head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of his head, you have less than 1/16 of an inch of tread and need to replace your tires. Likewise, if you find irregular wear tread patterns, you need to rotate and/or realign your tires before you leave
  3. Summer can be a harsh time for wiper blades with the often intense summer heat. Ensure that you examine your blades for wear and tear before you leave and replace them if necessary.
  4. Check the level on the cooling system and flush or refill it if the level isn’t adequate. You should see markings on the side of the coolant overflow tank indicating the high and low levels for your car. Additionally, a low coolant level can actually cause your car to have no heat.
  5. Check your oil, brake fluid, automatic transmission, and power steering levels before you leave. Ensure that each of these fluid levels are full and take your vehicle in to be serviced if any fluid leakage is present.

Children Safety

  1. Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children, so ensure that you check for your children in the back seat every time that you leave your car. A car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees in ten minutes and that temperature can reach 110 degrees at an outside temperature of 60 degrees. Additionally, a child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees which makes bringing them with you essential.
  2. Power windows cause many injuries to children’s fingers, wrists, and hands. To ensure that your kids are safe, teach them not to play with the window switches and not to stand on passenger arm rests. Also, properly restrain your kids in car seats or seat belts and check that their limbs are clear from the windows before raising them. If possible, utilize your vehicle’s power window lock switch to prevent them from playing with the windows.
  3. Unused seat belts and belts that have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out can lead to some kids being entangled within the belt. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to your child, always ensure that they are properly restrained and make sure to teach them not to play with seat belts. You can also buckle unused seat belts, pull the belt out the way to the end without yanking, to ensure that they cannot play with unused seat belts.
  4. Younger children often enjoy playing in or around cars where they can end up trapped in a trunk which can lead to heatstroke or asphyxiation since temperatures can rise very quickly. Always supervise your children when they are in or around vehicles and lock your car doors and trunks as well as ensure that your keys are away from your kids. Additionally, teach your children that trunks are made for carrying cargo and not for playing and keep your rear fold-down seats closed/locked to keep them from climbing into the trunk from inside the car.
  5. When the key is in the ignition and turned to accessory mode, it is possible for the vehicle to be set in motion if a child moves the gear selector while alone in the car. This occurrence can frighten children and cause them to jump out of the car which can lead to injury. To prevent this, teach your children not to play in or around cars and never leave keys in the car. For extra precaution, engage your emergency brake every time you park.

Suggested Emergency Roadside Kit

  • Cell phone
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak!)
  • A jug of water and paper towels for cleaning up
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Maps




Auto Liability Limits

Auto insurance can be a little complicated. Getting the right coverage means thinking about what you drive, how you drive, how much you drive, how much you want to pay, what you want covered, and even more factors. But it’s easy to just think about cost. Buying car insurance based solely on price is intuitive and not uncommon, but the resulting policy almost always doesn’t provide adequate coverage, and it may cost you more money in the long run.

To understand how important it is to have a good policy, let’s start by looking at the minimum coverage that you need to have. Firstly, you need car insurance in general; driving without car insurance in Minnesota is illegal and can get you cited for a misdemeanor. But let’s assume you’ve got the bare minimum. All owners of cars driven and primarily used in Minnesota need to have no-fault,liability, and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.

No-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection (PIP), will pay for your medical bills and loss of income after a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. This extends to your household family members, and it will also cover you if you’re a passenger in someone else’s car. The minimum state required limit for your PIP is $20,000, which is paid by your insurer and covers your medical bills regardless of fault.

Liability insurance helps pay for injuries and property damage that result from a car accident for which you are found at fault. The minimum requirements for liability coverage are 30/60/10, meaning $30,000 for injuries per person, $60,000 for total injuries per accident, and $10,000 for property damage. After a car accident you were deemed at fault for, the other driver’s PIP will take effect first, and your liability coverage kicks in if the cost exceeds the other driver’s PIP.

Lastly, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps cover costs of an accident with a driver who’s uninsured or has inadequate insurance. If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, your uninsured motorist coverage will help pay for the costs once you’ve exhausted the limits of your PIP. Your underinsured motorist coverage does the same for an accident with a driver who’s at fault and underinsured; the coverage takes effect once both your PIP and the other driver’s liability insurance limits have been exceeded.

With three different types of insurance and thousands of dollars worth of coverage, this required coverage might seem satisfactory or even unnecessary. But understanding adequate coverage means thinking about the situations on the road that cause it to take effect. This is when we start to see how low liability limits often create insufficient coverage. Let’s say you just got into an accident for which you are at fault, and you and the other driver both have the minimum amount of required coverage. Both your car and the one you hit have a few people in them, and the cars are seriously damaged. If everyone involved has PIP coverage, $20,000 will go towards their injuries. But if anyone is seriously injured, medical bills could cost tens of thousands more than that. Your $60,000 of liability insurance per accident wouldn’t be nearly enough to cover the medical bills for seriously injured passengers, even after everyone’s PIP has kicked in. This scenario assumes that the other driver is nice enough to not sue you, as a lawsuit could cost you hundreds of thousands more (which adequate liability limits would also cover). Also, you’ll have to pay for the damage to your car entirely out of pocket in the event your property damage limit was reached in order to pay for the other vehicles. This kind of catastrophe is certainly unlikely, but disasters like this happen every day. It is for this reason that nearly every state in the U.S. requires auto insurance, and it highlights the importance of getting adequate coverage to give you a financial safety net when things go wrong on the road.

Adding extra coverage to the minimum requirements might seem expensive, but the price of better coverage may surprise you, and there are some ways to lower your premium. The most important thing to remember is that increasing your coverage often affects your premium only slightly. Especially if you’ve got minimum coverage, extending the depth and breadth of your policy is often a no-brainer because it provides important coverage for only a marginally higher premium. Doubling your liability limits, for example, will not double your premium; you’ll get twice the coverage for probably less than ten dollars more per month. This may sound illogical, but a small increase in premiums is a lot of money for a big insurance company.

There are also several ways to lower your premium via discounts. Basic discounts such as a good driving record are usually applied automatically, but some discounts are available only if you look for them and take action. If you take a defensive driving course, for example, you may be eligible for a discount. If your driving habits change, and you’re now driving rarely or only for pleasure, let your insurance company know; they will likely lower your premium. For the insurance company, auto insurance is all about assessing your risk as a driver and combining it with your desired coverage to come up with a price. For you, auto insurance is about being secure and protected from disaster while paying a reasonable price. Nobody wants to get into an accident, and everyone wants to feel safe. This is why the insurance system works, and the only way to take advantage of it is to talk with your agent to find the coverage that’s right for you.