July 4th holiday road trippers should get ready and be set before they go

The Fourth of July is coming up in about a week and a half, and many of you are thinking: Road Trip! If you are planning to hit the road, it would be wise to put your car in the shop for a check-up and tune-up. Have an expert inspect under the hood as well as do a bit more than kick the tires. It's more time efficient and pocketbook-friendly to visit with your mechanic before you head out to your holiday destination a road trip than the alternative. Having your engine overheat due to an improper coolant level or a tire blow out because there's not enough – or too much – air in it means not only will you have to pay a premium to fix the original problem, but the problem has created other problems that'll cost you big bucks. Also, before you hit the road: Once you're on the road or at your destination, do not leave pets or children alone in hot cars. Making a rest stop break is inevitable and little Johnny looks so cute napping in the back seat. Sure, you're only going to be gone for a moment and it's not that hot outside. But even if the ambient air temperature outside the car is in the low 80s, your car's interior can reach deadly temperatures in 10 minutes. Heat Stroke, brain damage and even death can occur in children and pets left alone in hot vehicles. Learn more at www.nhtsa.gov/KeepingKidsSafe. If you see a child sitting alone in a car on a warm day, call 911. Other driving tips include:
  • Buckle up. This applies to yourself and your passengers;
  • Focus on driving. Don't fiddle with the radio, GPS, cell phone, eat, drink or do anything that takes your attention off the road;
  • Don't drive while tired. Stop and take a walk, take a nap or let another driver in your vehicle take over;
  • Don't drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Pick a designated driver, call a taxi or spend the night;
  • Do obey all traffic laws.
Also, if you or your passengers smoke, don't toss the butts out the window. Besides being illegal, with dry grassy conditions alongside highways up and down the state, the littlest spark or flame can mean disaster. And as always, if you witness no-good-doers such as road ragers or possible DUI drivers, call 911. The dispatcher's questions will include location of the incident and/or bad driver, vehicle license plate, make, model and description of the driver. It is OK to make a cellphone call in times of emergencies and threats to public safety qualify. Find more summer driving tips, visit www.ots.ca.gov or www.nhtsa.gov. Meanwhile, if you're planning a holiday trip, take lots of pictures and share them with Street Smarts. Simply send them to streetsmarts@santacruzsentinel.com, post on the Street Smarts' Facebook page or tweet them to @streetsmartssc. You may see your photos in print or on the blog.
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