Stay safe and cool when traveling this summer

Drivers should ready vehicles and prepare for hot weather

Summer Travel
Summer travel

RICHMOND — With kids out of school and temperatures heating up, summertime is officially here, and that means drivers are hitting the roads for vacation and trips. As we begin the season, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is reminding drivers of important travel safety tips to prepare for summer weather and avoid vehicle-related issues.

Fortunately, you can beat the heat and stay cool this summer by planning ahead for travel and performing routine safety checks on your vehicle.

Summer safety tips

  • Check your air conditioning performance and air filter before traveling. A lack of air conditioning on a hot day is dangerous for everyone, especially people with health conditions or those sensitive to heat, including children and older adults.
  • Never leave children, older adults or pets alone in the car. Heatstroke can happen quickly when left unattended in a parked vehicle. In the summertime months, it can be deadly. Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
  • Stock your vehicle with an emergency kit. Some important items to consider include: first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, roadside flares, cell phone and charger, tire pressure gauge, jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire, basic repair tools, and extra water and nonperishable food.
  • Hot temperatures accelerate the pace at which rubber belts and hoses degrade. Remember to look under the hood and inspect all belts and hoses to make sure there are no signs of wear and tear.
  • Inspect your vehicle to ensure proper maintenance and functioning of the tire pressure, fluid levels, batteries, headlights and wiper blades.

Plan ahead with VDOT 511: Traffic information at your fingertips

The summer season is the height of construction and maintenance work on the roads. VDOT’s free mobile 511 app offers information about construction, traffic, incidents and congestion as well as access to traffic cameras, weather, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and more. Use 511’s “speak ahead” option for hands-free and eyes-free audible traffic alerts for incidents and construction along your route. Traffic information is also available at or by calling 511 from any phone in Virginia. 

Year-round safety tips

Here are some additional tips for safely navigating the roadways: 

  • Buckle up every time and ensure passengers and car seats are secured. 
  • If you plan to drink, have a designated driver. 
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you in case traffic suddenly stops or slows down. 
  • Be patient and follow the posted speed limit, and consider leaving early to allow extra time to reach your destination in case of delays due to traffic and road construction.
  • Use your signals for lane changes and turns. 
  • Put your phone down and don’t drive distracted. 
  • Use caution as more pedestrians and cyclists are outdoors taking advantage of warm weather. 
  • Obey the “Move Over” law, requiring motorists to move over one lane, if possible, for all vehicles with flashing lights, flares, or warning signs stopped on the side of the road. 

For questions or to report hazardous road conditions, contact VDOT’s 24-hour Customer Service Center by visiting or calling 800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623).

Last updated: July 11, 2024

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