It’s that time of year again – the holidays! For many people, this means lots of traveling. If you’re traveling to your destinations by car, you can be assured that roads will be busy, and drivers may be distracted by traffic, excitement, passengers, and more. As you are getting ready to set out on your travels, here are a few things to keep in mind to help keep you and your family safe while on the roads this holiday season.
Before you set out on a road trip, make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. Here are a few things to check before setting out:
- Windshield Wipers – Inspect your windshield wipers to make sure they’re in good condition and if they’re not, replace them. Wipers that are starting to deteriorate do not clean as well and can make driving in adverse weather difficult and less safe.
- Lights – Make sure all of the lights on your vehicle are working. Have someone help you as you test your headlights (low and high beams), brake lights, hazard lights, and turn signals. If any lights are broken or not working properly, be sure to get that fixed before hitting the road. A missing or broken light can be a safety hazard and can result in a ticket from law enforcement.
- Fluids – Check (or have your mechanic check) your vehicle’s fluid levels before starting your road travels. This includes fluids such as your oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and more. Improper fluid levels can not only be unsafe but can also result in catastrophic damage to your vehicle.
- Oil Change – When did you last have the oil changed in your vehicle? Most vehicle manufacturers recommend oil changes every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on your vehicle.
- Tires – Before hitting the road, check your tire pressure. You’ll also want to check your tires for excess or uneven wear. A mechanic can tell you whether you have sufficient tread left. You can also inspect your tires to look for threads that could be showing. If your threads are showing, you’ll need to replace your tires immediately. A mechanic or tire shop can give you guidance and solutions for any tire issues.
- Inspection & Registration – Make sure your vehicle inspection and registration are up to date. If they are, make sure you have applied the inspection sticker to your license plate and that you have your most current vehicle registration in the vehicle (most people keep it in the glovebox). If your inspection and registration are overdue, this could be a safety hazard as you could have vehicle issues that would have been caught during an inspection. An out-of-date inspection and registration can also result in a ticket from law enforcement.
- Brakes – Make sure your brakes still have plenty of life left in them. An auto mechanic can check your brakes before you hit the road to make sure they’re safe.
- Battery – Most car batteries are designed to last approximately 3 years. When was the last time you changed your battery? To keep from being stranded along the way, make sure you consider the age of your battery and have your battery checked before you leave for your trip.
- Electric Vehicles – If you drive an electric vehicle, some of the above items may not apply to you, but you’ll still want to do things like checking your windshield wipers, lights and tires and making sure you have mapped out charging stations along your route.
Remove any unnecessary distractions during your drive. Be sure to put your phone down and stay off your phone while driving. If needed, have a passenger handle any incoming communications, input any changes into the GPS, and handle any other phone or navigation related issues. If you’re traveling with a pet, be sure they are safely secured in the backseat of your vehicle.
As you are traveling, be on the lookout for other drivers who may be distracted by their own excitement, technology, traffic, etc. Distracted drivers often make mistakes such as not stopping in time to avoid rear-ending another vehicle, running stop signs or stoplights, speeding, and more. Be prepared to take action if needed and as possible in order to avoid a collision. This may mean allowing extra space between yourself and the next vehicle, slowing down more as you approach intersections, and considering the possibility that the driver of the other vehicle does not see their red light or stop sign.
Before you begin your road travels, review your auto insurance policy. Be sure you have enough insurance to cover your vehicle in the event of an accident. You’ll want to make sure you have enough property damage coverage to cover any damage you may do to someone else’s vehicle if the wreck is your fault. You will also want to make sure you have enough property damage coverage to cover any damage to your vehicle if the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance.
Additionally, make sure you have enough bodily injury coverage in case you are injured in a wreck. If you are in a wreck and are not at fault, it’s possible that the at-fault driver may not have enough bodily injury coverage to fully compensate you for your medical injuries. You can add underinsured motorist coverage to your auto policy to make sure you’re covered in this situation. Underinsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive to add, so check with your insurance agent to see if you have this coverage or to add it to your policy if you don’t.
Medpay is another type of insurance coverage you can add to your auto policy. Medpay helps with medical expenses related to a wreck – even if you were at fault for the wreck! This is usually pretty inexpensive to add, too, and most insurance companies offer various levels of medpay coverage ranging from $500 to $5,000 or more. Check with your insurance agent to see if you have medpay and/or to add or change your medpay coverage amount.
At Burton Law Firm, we hope you have a wonderful, safe holiday season, and we hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare for your travels. In the event something unfortunate does happen, be sure to have necessary phone numbers handy such as emergency contacts. Consider keeping our phone number handy as well: (833) 623-0042. Being in a car wreck is overwhelming, but when it happens during the holidays, it can be even more frustrating as your plans with family get derailed, you have to fight with rental car companies, and you may be dealing with medical injuries over the holidays. If you’re in a wreck, before you talk with insurance companies, give us a call first. That way our personal injury attorneys can walk you through your legal rights and options and advise you on the best next steps to take. We don’t charge for the consultation, and if you decide to hire us, we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Stay safe, and happy holidays from The Burton Law Firm.