Farai Chideya's Summer Road Trip
ED GORDON, host:
Millions of Americans will take to the highways this summer for their vacations. NPR's Farai Chideya is one of them. She begins her trek across America this weekend and we're going along for the ride.
This is Farai, and, next week, plan to put on your seat belts. We are going to be taking a road trip across the country, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia. But, right now, I'm standing here with Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California. She's going to give me some tips on what to do while you're on the road.
Thanks for joining us.
Ms. MARIE MONTGOMERY (Automobile club of Southern California): You're welcome. Thank you.
CHIDEYA: So let's talk a little bit about the cars first, and then about some of the safety issues. We're standing next to my car, which actually we're not going to be taking. I'm going to be taking my sister's car, which doesn't even have air-conditioning, but why don't we do a little walk around my car. What sorts of things should you look for when you set off on a big summer road trip?
Ms. MONTGOMERY: The first thing you want to look at is your tires. That's probably the most common point of failure or problems on the road for motorists. Take a look at the tread; make sure that it's even, it's a little worn here on the outside. The best idea, if you're not mechanically inclined, just go to your mechanic and have him do an oil change, have him look at all your fluids, everything. If you're driving in real extreme hot temperatures, your mechanic might advise you to use a little heavier motor oil.
CHIDEYA: What sorts of essentials should you have in your car if you're going to be driving long distances on some roads where there's not going to be a lot of rest stops or even gas stations?
Ms. MONTGOMERY: Obviously, you need some basics: some water, some snacks, you also want to get--make sure that you have a map. That's a basic.
CHIDEYA: That's a good one.
Ms. MONTGOMERY: That's a basic. Well--and, I mean, not only because you want to see what you're going through but if you have to change routes, you want to be able to have an alternative and be able to sort of see where that might be.
CHIDEYA: Let's move on to safety. My sister and I are traveling together across the country. We actually have done it before. Not something I would inflict on my worst enemy, but we did it. Obviously, as two women traveling alone, we were very conscious of safety. What sorts of things, particularly, should women look out for?
Ms. MONTGOMERY: Probably the main thing for safety would be to stay on the major highways. And you want to probably avoid traveling at night. You want to make sure that you have your cell phone, it's charged up. Well, one point that is particularly important for people that are going to be taking these cross-country trips is drowsy driving. Your eyes, even without you noticing it, you can kind of tend to just kind of zone out and when you do that it can be as dangerous as drunk driving because you're not able to quickly respond to an emergency situation that pops up in front of you. So you really want to make sure that you try to take some breaks when you drive, get enough sleep so that you can tackle that driving every day.
CHIDEYA: Let's talk just a little bit about worse-case scenarios. If you break down in the middle of nowhere, what should you do?
Ms. MONTGOMERY: If you're not in an area where they have call boxes for the freeway patrol, you can call 911. You know, generally speaking, it's--you know, that is a good tip to have. Some type of a motor club membership or emergency vehicle membership before you leave on a long road trip, just so that you know that somebody's gonna come out and pick you up.
CHIDEYA: Any final summer driving tips?
Ms. MONTGOMERY: You want to make sure and let people know what your itinerary is. If something happens to you, you want to make sure that somebody, you know, comes looking for you.
CHIDEYA: That is certainly a word to the wise. Marie Montgomery is a spokesperson for the Automobile Club of Southern California, an affiliate of AAA.
Thanks for joining us.
Ms. MONTGOMERY: Oh, you're welcome; thank you.
CHIDEYA: Farai Chideya, NPR News.
GORDON: All next week, we'll be on the road with Farai. Her first stop will be Phoenix, Arizona.
This is NPR News.
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