By Leslie Pepper
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Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the open road. Whether you're taking a trip to a nearby beach or driving across the country, make sure you're prepared to make the trip safely. Before you head to the hills (or plains, or beach...), take some time to go through these road trip safety tips:

Pre-trip prep
Make sure your vehicle is in tiptop shape. Check tire pressure, make sure wiper blades are in working order, and verify that the car has all the proper fluid levels. Running out of air conditioning coolant on a hot day can make for a very unpleasant ride. Double-check that all your lights are working, including headlights, brake lights and turn signals. If you're towing a trailer ensure all connections are hooked up properly.

Seat kids correctly
Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States. Protect yours by putting them in the right car seat for their age and size. Reevaluate their current safety seat, and if you're unsure if it’s the right fit, visit a local car seat inspection site to double-check before you hit the road.

Stay alert
Driving while drowsy is a contributing factor in 100,000 accidents annually, reports the NHTSA. To stave off drowsy driving, make getting there half the fun. Schedule frequent breaks along the way to eat, drink, and snap family pictures. Sure, you want to get to your destination quickly, but you want to arrive there safely too. Enjoy all the country has to offer by stopping to take in the scenery along the way. Trying to make good time and don't want to make lots of stops? Make sure you and your co-pilot take turns behind the wheel to allow for the driver to rest up.

Stall savvy
If you're forced to stop in an emergency, pull your vehicle as far off the road as safely possible. Ensure you're visible by turning on hazards and using any flares or warning lights you have. Once you're parked in a safe location stay inside of the car until help arrives.

Be prepared
Stock an emergency kit — especially a flashlight, blanket, and first-aid kit, and a supply of water and snacks. Double-check that you have your spare tire and tired-changing tools in case of a flat.


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