The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States (NHTSA) has drawn up a series of recommendations which cover everything you need to know to make your summer trip as safe as possible. Let's take a look at the main points you need to bear in mind before and during a trip as well as the factors that apply specifically to the summer months. Risk prevention is essential to avoid any complications when traveling and guarantee the maximum possible safety.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
- Vehicle maintenance: you need to give the car a complete overhaul: in other words, oil level, battery, tires, lights, etc. Everything you need to check is shown below.
- Take an emergency kit. For any unexpected events, the US Highway Traffic Administration recommends the following kit: a cell phone and charger, a first aid kit, torch, flares and a signal flag (in the US, distances are huge and this might be necessary), jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge, a jack for changing tires, heavy-duty gloves and a change of clothing, repair tools, adhesive tape, water, paper towels, non-perishable foodstuffs, medicines, maps and blankets.
- Check that there are no recalls on your vehicle. This is a service offered by the NHTSA for checking whether your vehicle model has been recalled for any reason by the manufacturer. To check, simply enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) here: Recall
SEAT BELTS AND CHILD SEATS - A PRIORITY
The US Highway Traffic Administration stresses the importance of always traveling with your seat belt fastened and children in their respective child restraint systems.
The NHTSA emphasizes:
- All children aged 13 years and under must travel in the back seats.
- Make sure that child restraint systems are properly installed, as well as booster seats and seat belts.
- NEVER leave a child alone in a car.
- Remember to lock the car when you get out to make sure that children cannot get back in and become trapped. Ten minutes in a car at an outside temperature of 25ºC is enough to give a child heatstroke, according to the report drawn up by Fundación MAPFRE and the Spanish Association of Paediatrics .
- Check that the child seat is in perfect condition. You can find where to do this free of charge here (in the United States). Depending on the area you can choose to be attended by someone who speaks Spanish if you would like to attend one of their regular check-up events.
On the "Children's Road Safety" page of Fundación MAPFRE, we recommend you refer to our infographic on "Types of Child Seats in the USA" which differentiates between four kinds of CRS.
When it comes to legal regulations, we recommend you take a look at our infographic: "What regulations govern the use of CRS in the United States?" which details how children should travel in cars in each State.
You should also check that the child seat you are using has not been recalled by the manufacturer, in the same way as sometimes happens with cars. We explain what this entails and how to get it checked in the article "Car seat recall: how is this done in the United States?" .
DURING THE JOURNEY
- Make frequent stops to rest. Take advantage of these stops to have something to eat or drink, return phone calls and messages, and change driver if you feel tired.
- Resist the urge to check your mobile phone when driving to avoid distractions.
- Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the steering wheel and concentrate.
- Take care when around vulnerable road users. When it gets hot there is an increase in the number of cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians on the roads.
SPECIFIC ADVICE FOR SUMMER
- NEVER leave a child alone in a parked car even if the windows are open or the air-conditioning is on.
- Double check before you leave the car that you haven't left a child inside it.
- Heatstroke can happen at temperatures as low as 57ºF. When the temperature exceeds 80ºF, the temperature inside a car can kill within 10 minutes.
- Lock the car doors and keep the keys out of reach of children.
You can find more information in the report drawn up by Fundación MAPFRE and the Spanish Association of Paediatrics, such as this infographic on the risks of heat inside cars and how to act: