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5 Tips for Summer Road Trip Safety

By RBC Insurance • Published June 7, 2023 • 5 Min Read

As spring leads into the warm summer days, road trips are on the minds of many. The all-too-short Canadian summer season means drivers try to jam in as much adventure and enjoyment as possible. But with more people on the road, there’s an increased need to keep yourself and other drivers safe.

With some planning and a little bit of prep work, you can help make sure your summer road trip is a safe one. Here are five tips for road trip safety.

Vehicle maintenance

Chances are your next road trip adventure will see you driving distances you don’t normally drive. If your car is close to its regularly scheduled maintenance, consider taking it in before you leave. Get a tune-up, ensure fluids are topped up, get an oil change (if your car uses oil), and have any small repairs you might have been putting off addressing. You don’t want small things to become bigger problems while you’re away from home.

If you’re not due to take your car in, check the following:

  • Tires: Make sure your tire pressure is correct — check your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure. Ensure there’s a safe amount of tread left, and inspect for any signs of damage
  • Fluids: Top up necessary fluids and consider putting an extra jug of windshield washer fluid in your trunk
  • Lights: Inspect to make sure lights and signal indicators are working

Should you find something that isn’t right, schedule a trip to the mechanic.

Pack an emergency road kit

Emergencies can happen when you least expect them. Out on the road, unfamiliar terrain or unpredictable weather conditions can make dealing with problems more challenging. Preparing a well-stocked emergency road kit can help you handle common roadside or first-aid situations.

Consider putting the following in an easily identifiable bag (makes it easier to find in a packed car):

  • Jumper or booster battery cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Nylon utility cord
  • Syphon pump (a device used to move fluid, like gasoline)
  • LED flashlight
  • Safety vest
  • Signal cone
  • Batteries (to power things like a flashlight)
  • Gloves
  • Rain poncho
  • Mylar or thermal emergency blanket
  • Light sticks
  • Paper towels
  • Quick-fix tire sealant
  • Multi-tool (can include a screwdriver, pliers and cutting tool)
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency water and food
  • Extra cellphone charger

Check your car seats

If you have kids in the car, it’s a good idea to check the car seats:

  • Does the child’s harness still fit as instructed by the car seat owner’s manual?
  • Are there any wear patterns on the belts or harnesses that require further inspection or replacement?
  • Is there food or debris that needs to be cleaned (check your owner’s manual on how to clean them properly)?

Remember, any loose items in the car may become projectiles in the event of an accident. Toys and tablets inside the car might become potential hazards to all passengers, not just kids.

Travelling with pets

Keep pets secure to ensure they’re safe — and to avoid unexpected distractions for drivers. For larger dogs, consider a properly fitting harness. For smaller dogs or cats, an appropriate-sized carrier can help keep them safe and comfortable and prevent wandering around the car.

If you need a break, chances are your pet does too. Plan for frequent stops and make sure all passengers have plenty of water. And remember to never leave a pet alone in the car. Temperatures inside the car can change quickly, leading to a dangerous situation for your pet.

Know the weather conditions

With warm weather comes heat warnings, the risk of severe thunderstorms, potential flooding, and even wildfires. Check weather forecasts and know what type of driving conditions you might be facing.

Things to watch out for if you’re driving through unexpected weather conditions:

  • High heat may cause your engine to overheat
  • Wind storms can cause downed trees or other damage, making roads difficult to navigate
  • Heavy rains can cause floods and reduce visibility. Driving on flooded roads may affect your engine and brakes
  • Wildfire smoke may reduce visibility

Make sure your car insurance is up to date

Do you know when your car insurance policy renews? Make sure you check on the renewal date and that payments are coming out of your account as expected. You don’t want to be away from home in an accident only to find out your coverage has expired.

Some insurance companies have towing coverage as a part of their policies. Others offer optional roadside assistance or trip-planning services. Know what services are available as a part of your coverage before leaving.

And before pulling out of the driveway, ensure you have proof of valid insurance. If you’re an RBC Insurance client, you can sign in through Online Insurance to get a copy of your insurance slip (and if you’re new to Online Insurance, you can enroll here).

Lastly, know how to contact your insurance company before you leave on your trip. Keep a copy of the claims phone number stored in your glove box and your contact list on your phone. In the event of an accident, take some of the stress out of the situation by knowing how to connect with your insurance provider and ask for help.

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*Home and auto insurance products are distributed by RBC Insurance Agency Ltd. and underwritten by Aviva General Insurance Company. In Quebec, RBC Insurance Agency Ltd. Is registered as a damage insurance agency. As a result of government-run auto insurance plans, auto insurance is not available through RBC Insurance in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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