Safe Summer Road Trip Guide

June 12, 2014


Summer is here and it is time for a family road trip! So make your trip the more enjoyable here are a few tips to keep you rolling smoothly.


The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that personal vehicles will be the primary mode of transportation for 91 percent of vacations this summer. In fact, more than 35.5 million Americans hit the road last year on Independence Day alone, and it’s believed that number will increase this year.


If you’re planning a summer road trip - whether venturing to Yosemite National Park or cross-country, here are some things to consider before jumping into your car:


Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Routine car maintenance – Before you leave, be sure you’re up to date on all routine vehicle maintenance; Change engine oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles; replace windshield wipers every six months; rotate tires every 5,000 miles; and top off engine fluids whenever necessary. Additionally, review your vehicle owner’s guide to make sure you take care of major maintenance at recommended intervals. These tips will help keep your vehicle in good condition and reduce the chances of suffering mechanical trouble during your trip.  

  • Check your car – Before your trip, check your vehicle’s tire pressure and treads (including the spare), top off fluids and check all lights.

  • Prepare for the worst – Be sure to have the necessary equipment needed for a breakdown.  Stock at least one gallon of drinking water per passenger and invest in a good roadside emergency kit that includes a flashlight, first aid supplies, blanket and flairs/warning triangles...and don’t forget to pack heavy duty jumper cables.

  • Review your auto coverage – Some auto insurance providers, like Mercury Insurance, offer roadside assistance coverage.   They’ll come to the rescue whenever your vehicle is disabled, covering the cost of a tow, locksmith, jump-start, flat repair or the delivery of fuel.

  • Mechanical Breakdown Protection – It’s a good idea to have mechanical breakdown protection in addition to liability and collision insurance. Sometimes known as an extended warranty, mechanical breakdown protection will cover the cost of repairs if your vehicle breaks down. Some policies also include trip interruption insurance, which will also pay for meals and lodging if you’re stranded more than 100 miles from home.

When a Breakdown Happens

  • Pull off the road – Activate your hazard lights to alert drivers your car is disabled.  Your best option is to go to a well-lit shopping center, but if you’re on a highway or a busy street, move to the hard shoulder and turn your wheels to the right to prevent being pushed back onto the road by an another vehicle.

  • Signal other drivers –When safely on the side of the road, put your car’s hood up and place road triangles/flairs behind your car.

  • Call for help – Once in a safe place, phone for assistance to repair or tow your disabled vehicle.  Companies that offer roadside assistance may even be able to locate your vehicle through your phone’s GPS.

  • Stay in your car until help arrives – The National Highway Traffic Safety Association estimates that 15 percent of pedestrian deaths occur on freeways and Interstates.  These fatalities often occur when a person attempts to repair a disabled vehicle.  Don’t take the risk; stay in your car with your seat belt buckled until help arrives.  However, if conditions require – as in the case of smoke or fire – exit your vehicle on the side away from traffic.

These tips are vital to handling a vehicle breakdown and applying these practices will help keep you safe.


Greg Barber, CIC, V. Pres.
California Southwestern


Direct Office: 949/472-6564


Insurance License Number #0443354

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