Here’s how to drive safer on the ‘difficult’ Fourth of July holiday weekend

If you thought Memorial Day weekend travel was tough … fasten your seat belt for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Actually, you should always fasten your seat belt, but you get the idea.

Stretching across six days from Thursday, June 29, to Tuesday, July 4, the holiday will be a high-water mark of the summer travel/vacation season with upwards of 40 million motorists venturing at least 50 miles from home and millions more driving to take part in local holiday activities.

“Because July 4 is one of the major summer holidays, it’s a given that travel will be difficult,” said USA Today in a report on the Top 10 Worst Travel Days of the year.

It’s also the most dangerous, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


Time to pack up for your own grand – and affordable – vacation

Following are 10 holiday weekend safe-driving reminders from a variety of sources:

  • Fasten your seat belt and take other basic safety precautions.
  • Don’t mix alcohol (or other intoxicants) and driving – it’s a dangerous combination. And stay alert for intoxicated drivers whether you’re close to home or on vacation.
  • Prepare your vehicle for traveling in heavy traffic and warmer weather. See infographic.
  • Plan your route and allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
  • Concentrate on your driving by limiting distractions, including your mobile phone.
  • Keep calm in traffic – there is no sense in getting agitated about something you can’t control – and don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • Steer clear of distracted drivers whenever possible and remain a safe distance away.
  • Watch out for camping vehicles, motorcyclists and stopped or broken-down motorists.
  • Don’t let your gas tank get too low, especially if you are traveling long distances between cities.
  • Pull over and take a break if you’re having a hard time focusing on driving.

“If every driver buckled up, no one was impaired by alcohol, and everyone drove the speed limit, we could make July 4 and every day safer on the road,” said Adrian Lund of IIHS.

“Consumers should remember [that] prevention and planning is much easier than dealing with the consequences of a breakdown or, worse yet, a highway crash,” warns the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

And that holds for driving the rest of the summer travel season.

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