Tips on safe summer travel

When so many people are on the move in so many ways, we all need to be alert and be on the look out for others, no matter how they - or we - are traveling. With the long days of summer, people are out and about from morning till night: bicycling, walking, jogging, motorcycling, even in-line skating and skateboarding, as well as driving. Here is some advice on how to get there safely.

Before You Go

  • Check your car or have it serviced before any long trip (battery, tires, belts and fluids).
  • Have a qualified technician check the air conditioner.
  • Check your oil. If you will be towing a trailer or boat, or driving in the desert, switch to a motor oil with higher viscosity.
  • Pack an emergency kit that includes water, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight, equipment to change a tire, and a first aid kit.
  • Fill up your gas tank at night or early in the morning to minimize damage to the ozone layer.
  • Make sure your child safety seats and booster seats are properly installed.

On the Road

  • Require all occupants to buckle up, with children in the back seat.
  • Obey speed limits and all roadway signs.
  • Drive calmly and avoid entanglements with aggressive drivers.
  • Pack non-perishable snacks and plenty of juice and water (individual water bottles for each family member helps you monitor intake to avoid dehydration).
  • Take frequent breaks - at least every two hours - and avoid driving when tired.
  • Be especially careful around railroad crossings.
  • Avoid driving in the "No Zone" around trucks. If you cannot see the truck driver in the truck's mirror, the truck driver cannot see you.
  • Slow down in work zones, obey all signs and flaggers and pay attention to the vehicle in front of you (most work zone crashes are rear-end collisions due to an inattentive driver).

Safe Walking and Bicycling

  • When crossing streets, remember to look left, right, then left again, before you step off the curb.
  • Don't play, walk or bicycle along railroad tracks.
  • Parents, be sure to review the bicycle and pedestrian safety rules with your children.
  • Check the fit of your bike helmet.
  • Always wear your helmet while bicycling or in-line skating.
  • Don't wear your bike helmet on the playground, climbing trees, or at other types of play.
  • Before riding your bike, do a quick maintenance check of the bike, including brakes, tires, air pressure, chain, handlebars and loose parts. Whether you use your bike a lot or are just dusting it off, do a maintenance check every time you ride.

Sources: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, HSRC, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

Enjoy the Ride!

Above all -- relax, take it easy, and have fun on your summer vacation!

More information on biking and pedestrian issues can be found at and For more information on the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, please visit, or call Jennifer Bonchak at 919-843-4859.


Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson

To get news updates delivered to your email account, sign up for our mailing list.