Memorial Day Travel on Your Agenda?

Memorial Day Travel
Time to kick-off summer! Photo: Creative Commons

Be Safe with tips from Michelin and AAA.

Memorial Day kicks off the (unofficial) summer travel season when over 34 million Americans will take their cars on the road.

To make sure that those drivers (often with families and friends on board) are safe, Michelin partnered with AAA for safe summer driving tips. The B.E. S.A.F.E. tips are relevant year round, but holiday travel means roads will be crowded and safety even more paramount.

B: Begin with a safety check

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Conduct periodic safety checks to ensure your car is in good operating condition, especially before a long trip. Before you hit the road, make sure your lights, fluids, hoses, windshield wipers and tires are in good working order.

E: Employ the penny test

Tires are the only part of your car that touches the road, so ensuring they’re in good condition for maximum grip is of the utmost importance. Make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread before hitting the road, especially with the possibility of unexpected summer showers. You can do this with a penny.

Safe Driving Tips

Checking the tread on the Michelins; put a penny head-down into the tread and if you can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is good. Photo: Scotty Reiss for AGirlsGuidetoCars

S: Stay safe, check your pressure

Tires don’t carry the weight of your vehicle, the pressure inside them does. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticeable and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and your safety. In fact, under inflation is one of the most common reasons for tire failure.

As a general rule, your tire pressure will gain or lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10° F change in temperature. Check your air pressure when tires are ‘cold’ in the morning and compare that number to the sticker in your doorjamb before hitting the road for holiday travel.  Don’t forget to check the air in your spare, too.

A: Avoid overloading

Memorial Day Travel

Packing light in a cleaned out trunk. Photo: Scotty Reiss for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Consider leaving your extra suitcase at home when seeking out sun and sand, and be sure to clear out any extra junk that may have accumulated in your car over the winter. Lightening your load will positively impact your gas mileage, handling and braking distance. 

F: Focus on the road

While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet. Save these actions for a rest stop, or if necessary, pull over to the side of the road.

E: Emergency preparedness

Always carry a well-stocked emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. It’s also a good idea to program your cell phone with emergency numbers – including that of your roadside assistance provider – and keep a backup written list in your glove compartment.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend and share any additional Memorial Day travel tips below.


Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell