ODOT Encourages Drivers to Review Auto Coverage and Practice Safe Driving Habits

Summertime usually means vacations and road trips. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR), now is a good time for a little planning and some safety checks that might spare you from dealing with the consequences of a breakdown – or worse, a highway crash. 

DFR reminds Oregonians of safe driving tips and to check with your insurance agent or company to review your insurance policies. With changes in driving patterns and potential risks during the summer, it is crucial for drivers to understand policy limits and coverages. DFR encourages drivers to have a conversation with their agent or insurance company to explore coverage options and ensure policies are up to date.

Also, it is a good time to ensure vehicles are in good working order by reviewing the following:

Air conditioning: As the temperature rises, your A/C works harder to keep your vehicle cool. Check A/C performance before traveling and don’t forget to check your cabin air filter. A lack of air conditioning on a hot summer day affects everyone and is particularly dangerous for people in poor health or who are sensitive to heat, such as children and older adults.

Belts and hoses: To ensure safe and uninterrupted travel, drivers should regularly inspect their vehicle’s belts and hoses. High summer temperatures accelerate the rate at which rubber belts and hoses degrade. Look under the hood and inspect all belts and hoses to make sure there are no signs of bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts in the rubber. It’s best to replace them now if they show signs of obvious wear. Also, make sure all hose connections are secure.

Tires: Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is listed in your owner’s manual and on a placard located on the driver’s door pillar or door frame, and don’t forget to check your spare if your vehicle is equipped with one. To get an accurate reading, check pressure when tires are cold, meaning they have not been driven on for at least three hours. Do not inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself – that number is the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for your vehicle. A tire doesn’t have to be punctured to lose air. All tires naturally lose some air over time. In fact, underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure.

Some other tips: 

  • Inspect your tires at least once a month and before long road trips. 
  • Look closely at your tread and replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread. 
  • Tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch or more on all tires. Look for the built-in wear bar indicators or use the penny test to determine when it is time to replace your tires. Place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your vehicle may need new tires.
  • If you find uneven wear across the tires’ tread, it means your tires need to be rotated, your wheels need to be aligned, or both before you travel. 
  • Check each tire’s age. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years, regardless of use.
  • Since electric vehicles are typically heavier than gas-powered vehicles, they require EV-specific tires to bear the weight and maximize performance and electric range, all while minimizing tire noise. Whether the vehicle is gas-powered, electric-powered, or a hybrid, all tires require similar maintenance. Low-rolling-resistance tires for conventional vehicles could also have lower tread life. 

An inspection is not just about checking tire pressure and age. Remember to check: 

  • For any damage or conditions that may need attention.
  • The tread and sidewalls for any cuts, punctures, bulges, scrapes, cracks, or bumps.
  • Your spare tire and car jack kit. 
  • If you find tire damage, take your vehicle to a tire professional. 

Essential vehicle components: Regular maintenance of essential vehicle components is vital to ensure a safe and reliable driving experience. Drivers should regularly check vehicle fluid levels, including engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Also, inspect the cooling system, batteries, and wiper blades to avoid potential breakdowns and maintain clear visibility. It is important to make sure your headlines, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights are all in working order as well.

Essential supplies: In preparation for long journeys or unexpected situations, it is essential for drivers to stock their vehicle with necessary supplies. DFR suggests including items such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, extra water, nonperishable snacks, a roadside emergency kit that includes jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, work gloves, a change of clothes, emergency blankets, towels, and coats. These supplies can be invaluable during emergencies or when stranded on the road. In addition, make sure to have a charged portable cell phone charger, extra windshield washer fluid, and maps.

“We encourage all drivers to prioritize safety during the summer season by following these essential tips,” said Andrew R. Stolfi, insurance commissioner and director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “By practicing responsible driving habits and taking proactive measures, we can collectively contribute to safer roads and a more enjoyable driving experience for everyone. In addition to taking safety measures, and before hitting the road, drivers should make sure their auto insurance coverages are updated and their current proof of insurance is in the vehicle.”

ODOT has published its summer news packet that has a lot of information for people traveling around the state with construction updates, travel tips, and more. ODOT also recommends people check out www.tripcheck.com for road conditions before making any road trip.

### About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation protects consumers and regulates insurance, depository institutions, trust companies, securities, and consumer financial products and services. The division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services

Images by Pixabay

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