This may be a funny question, but do you happen to know where your jack and lug wrench and spare tire are right now? Would you know where to position the jack if you had to change a flat? Summer driving season is in full swing, and if you're like me, you'd probably rather know the answers to these questions now than have to find out on the side of a busy highway with a billion cars whizzing past at 75 miles an hour.
In fact, I did have to change a tire on Interstate 90 during my last family driving trip, and it wasn't a real high point of the journey. With the suitcases pulled out of the van, and the jack and lug wrench and spare tire arranged on the shoulder of the road, and me wondering if the spare tire had air in it or always looked like that, I kept wondering if I'd make the news the next day in one of those awful "Man Crushed" stories.
Some more pertinent questions for the summer driver: If you have AAA or roadside assistance coverage on your insurance, do you know to access them? And although I'd personally like to believe that such assistance is magical, in reality it might take hours for them to get to you. My wife always insists that we carry a gallon of water in the car and a blanket, and it's always nice to have food on hand if you're going to be stuck anywhere for several hours (see the airline disasters post, below).
Remember Murphy's Law of summer driving: If your windshield wipers aren't up to date, it is sure to rain within twenty miles of your home, even if you live in the middle of the Sonora desert and it's the dead of summer. Likewise, it's not a bad idea to make sure the tires are properly inflated, and the windshield, radiator, power steering and brake fluids in the car are topped up. No sense tempting Murphy.
Teach your kids to sing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in case there's a lengthy delay due to highway construction. Prepare a few choice epithets about the price of gas for every time you pull into a pump to refuel. Search under the seats for any food items that your kids left there that may begin to rot during a long, hot car trip.
And finally, have fun. A driving trip is still a quintessential American travel experience. Happy driving.
Now tell us some of your summer driving tips in the comment space, below.