On behalf of The Ward Firm on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

In colder parts of the country, it can be hard to convince people that summer vacation is a more dangerous time on the roads than winter’s slipping and sliding. Sacramento area residents know accidents happen no matter the weather, and summer is the high season for motor vehicle accidents.

The before taking your family on that last adventure before school resumes, get up to speed on the safety advice offered by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. After all, nobody knows crashes better than the NHTSA.

Gearing up

It’s instructive that the NHTSA’s advice doesn’t start with your driving or that of your fellow motorists. It starts with your car. Being broken down by the side of the road is extremely, surprisingly dangerous. Worse yet is a blown out tire at highways speeds.

So, the first line of defense against serious injury or death for you and your family is going to be a vehicle worthy of the trust you’re giving it, consciously or not.

The seemingly little things you’re supposed to do on a regular basis are not as little as they seem. Besides, they give fresh eyes a chance to have a look, specially at things like burned out bulbs, wiper blades, and the like. Get those tune ups, change that oil, rotate those tires, and do it when the car’s manual says so.

Also, go to the NHTSA’s recalls website and enter your car’s VIN. If your car should be repaired due to a recall, take it seriously. Those recalls are often the direct result of some very worrying incidents. Finally, pack a roadside emergency kit.

Choose the right procedures and then just do them

Being on the road can be confusing in all the little ways. Where’s your wallet? Your keys? How many kids are there?

The great thing about thinking through your procedures, setting them, and following them like a robot is that you can mostly stop thinking about them and concentrate on the vacation.

Strap in. Simply buckle up every single time. Never start the vehicle until everyone is comfortably secured. It’s easy.

Have the right car seats for the right sized kids. Don’t let a kid wander around your or anybody else’s vehicles.

Most importantly, never walk away from a car without carefully counting the kids inside (the number you want is exactly zero). Then, lock it to keep that number zero.

Easy riding

Staying alert and avoiding distraction comes from good planning. Plan your itinerary so you and your passengers don’t feel they have to eat, navigate, research, change clothes in motion. Bring enough entertainment for each person to minimize fighting and other mischief.

There will be motorcycles, bicycles, large semi-trucks, pedestrians and much more. Stay calm and know that the road is a big, messy, diverse community that “takes all kinds.” It’s okay and you can ready for anything if you expect everything.