Memorial Day weekend brought us this year’s first true taste of what travel is going to be like for the next few months. People will be taking to the roads in droves – especially once the school year ends in a couple weeks – for summer vacation. It’s a fun time of year, to be sure; it also can be a deadly one, particularly on holiday weekends.

Taking a trip should never be so simple as throwing the bags in the car and taking off. Folks can do a lot to stop themselves from becoming a statistic by using a little common sense. Here are a few suggestions to keep tragedy from your travels:

Check your vehicle thoroughly, both before and during your travels – tire pressure, brakes, vehicle fluids, belts and hoses, wiper blades, and battery. Doing so not only keeps you safe – it also saves wear and tear on your vehicle.

Pack an emergency kit, as even the best-made travel plans can go astray. Carry items such as a basic tool kit, extra food, water and clothes, booster cables, and a flashlight and first aid kit.

Don’t overpack. Blocking the view from your mirrors is dangerous, and exceeding your vehicle’s carrying limit is asking for trouble.

Don’t travel when tired. Trying to get someplace faster by driving when exhausted might mean you don’t get there at all.

Don’t use your electronic gadgets when driving. We’ve heard the tales about motorists getting into wrecks while distracted by their smart phones, DVD players and even laptop computers. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.

Buckle up. Wearing a seat belt reduced by two-thirds your chances of getting hurt in an accident.

Lastly, never drive while drinking. This should be obviously, but sadly, a lot of people don’t heed this advice. Tossing back a few and getting behind the wheel is about as dangerous as anything you can do – so don’t.

Have fun this summer, but do so safely. It not only will benefit you, but others on the road as well.

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