With the summer season upon us, the New York State Police want you to enjoy your family activities — safely.
Too often, summer fun ends in tragedy. The summer months account for the highest number of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths each year.
But it doesn’t have to be that way; there are simple and practical ways to help ensure that your summer trips are safe.
First, make sure the vehicle you are traveling in is properly maintained, and perform a safety check prior to taking to the road. Regular maintenance — oil changes, battery checks, tire rotations and inspection by a trained mechanic — goes a long way toward preventing a breakdown. Before you leave, check tire pressure, tread wear, fluid levels (oil, transmission, power steering, coolant and windshield washer) and wiper blades. In addition, make sure the vehicle’s air conditioning is working properly, especially if traveling with small children or seniors who may be extra sensitive to the heat. Most air conditioning problems are easily and inexpensively addressed.
If you are traveling with small children, make sure the vehicle is equipped with proper child restraints for the age and size of the child, and make sure all occupants are buckled up before you put the car in gear.
It is important to plan your travel route, and to make sure you are rested before taking to the road. A drowsy driver behaves much like a drunk driver, so plan ahead to keep mentally sharp.
Once you depart, take breaks to stretch your legs and always expect heavy traffic and the potential for traffic jams. While you can’t do anything about traffic, you can do something about how you respond to them. Avoid aggressive driving and remain calm. After the traffic clears, don’t attempt to make up for lost time by speeding; that only adds danger to the trip.
Last, never use phones or other electronic devices while driving. Talking on a phone and texting are significant threats to safety and especially dangerous when traffic volume is heavy and unpredictable. Keep your mind on the road and your hands on the wheel.
A fun and relaxing summer vacation depends on how you travel. So prepare your vehicle and prepare yourself in order to safely return home.
Joseph A. D’Amico is the Superintendent for the New York State Police division headquarters