The Necessities of Summer Road Trips

1993 Jeep Wrangler rests underneath the Grand Teton range.  Photo by: Scott Allen

A 1993 Jeep Wrangler rests underneath the Grand Teton range. Photo by: Scott Allen

The warm summer months are an ideal time of the year for many things: swimming, barbecues and most certainly, road trips.

We as humans are eager for mobility. Even as infants, we yearn to be able to walk around with our older siblings, but it takes some time for mammals to get their land legs. It’s important to understand it’s in our blood and we MUST travel.

Author Erol Ozan says it best: “some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”

It’s necessary to get lost at times, but you must make sure to follow a few rules of the road while traveling this summer.

S-A-F-E-T-Y DANCE

The main concern for everyone should be safety. According to a 2013 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, June-September are the most deadly months of the year, with August topping the charts. The main reason for this is the sheer number of drivers on the road, especially with school out (sorry kiddos) and more people on vacation.

CAUSES FOR TROUBLE

A big problem is the temperature. According to cartalk.com, “tire pressure will go up approximately one pound for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit,”  and the heat can do a number on your tires. Hot weather causes the air inside your tires to expand, which can lead to a blowout in well-worn wheels. Check your tires on a regular basis during the summer months, especially during heat waves, by doing the classic “penny method” test.
Under-inflated tires are most at risk. The lack of air pressure puts the tires’ components under increased strain; but over-inflated ones are more likely to hydroplane in a summer rainstorm. An even balance must be maintained.

Another big problem is operator malfunctions. The AA reminds us to take certain precautions such as taking multiple frequent stops, being hydrated and avoiding heavy meals and alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. Another tried and true method is to play loud music or blast the air conditioner, the cold air should shutter you back awake from your driver comatose.

Vision is another cause for accidents. Dirty windows, sun glare and overly-darkened sunglasses can affect your ability to see the lines on the road. Cleaning your windshield while pumping gas will only take you five minutes and it may be the difference between smooth sailing and jackknifing.

A NEW HOPE

The stakes are high, but this summer has a lot of good sides to it. The number one plus is gas prices.
According to an April article by fortune.com, a single gallon of gasoline will cost an average of $2.45 between the Easter month and September and this year’s prices were at an all-time low since 2009. The affordable gas will most certainly result in more people on the road. The wild card in this situation will be California, which operates almost as a separate gasoline market from the rest of the country.

Texas is well off in the marketplace, coming in at 9th for the lowest gas prices according to fuelgaugereport.aaa.com. Houston has been averaging under 2.40 per gallon for the beginning of July.

Oil now sells for about half of what it did early last summer and American drivers continue to pay more than $1 per gallon less than they did a year ago. This will cause more people to be on the road, but if people are cautious and take the necessary steps, then every person’s road-trip will seem like a Sunday afternoon cruise down Route 66.

route 66 photo