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Fact Sheet


The summer months typically see an increase in road trips and the need to be alert to seasonal concerns:

Keep your car prepared for hot weather. Change your oil at recommended intervals. Make sure coolant and fluids are filled to appropriate levels. Examine hoses and belts and replace any that may have cracked during the colder weather. Have air conditioning serviced by a certified specialist. Replace wiper blades if necessary; blades in poor condition can make it harder to see when it rains. Keep tires properly inflated. This not only helps fuel efficiency, but also helps to avoid damage to tires. Make sure your spare tire is in good shape.

Carry a roadside emergency and first aid kit and your cell phone. If you need to make a call, find a safe place and pull over.

Wear safety belts. They reduce the risk of death to front seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of injury by 50 percent.

Belts prevent passengers from being ejected from the car (most passengers who are ejected from cars die). Safety belts also protect passengers from being thrown around inside the car.

Keep children safe. The back seat is the safest place for children to ride, and all children must be restrained with the correct safety equipment.

Children under 20 pounds and under 12 months old must be in an infant safety seat, facing the rear. Keep children rear-facing as long as possible - the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing so up to age two, checking that weight limits of the child car seat. When children outgrow the rear-facing seat, they should sit in a forward-facing seat. Make sure child safety seats are properly installed following the safety seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual. If the seat moves when it's been fastened, it isn't attached correctly. Children 40 to 80 pounds and between 4 and 8 years old should sit in a belt-positioning booster seat.

In bad weather, turn your headlights on.

Follow the three-second rule. In good weather, allow three seconds of following time behind the car in front of you. In bad weather, add one second for each condition (fog, rain, snow, etc.). If someone is tailgating you, get out of the way and let them pass.

Summer can mean road construction. Be alert to road conditions and the added activity of workers and machines. Fines for speed violations double in work zones.

Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows rolled down slightly. In warm weather your car's interior heats up rapidly. Your pet could die of heatstroke in a very short period of time.

Increased activity in the summer, combined with later daylight hours, often means that we're cheating ourselves on sleep. Driving while drowsy can be as deadly as drinking and driving. Caffeine and other stimulants are no substitutes for sleep: their effects wear off rapidly. If driving long distances, plan frequent breaks. Walk, stretch or even take a nap. If you have passengers, share the driving.

Relax and enjoy the ride. Don't let anger at other drivers interfere with your good judgement. Keep away from vehicles that are driving in an unsafe manner.

Bring snacks and games to keep children busy so they don't break your concentration.

National Safety Council
Minnesota Department of Public Safety
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Contact the South Dakota Safety Council at
or phone 605-361-7785 or 1-800-952-5539.