Holiday driving: The months cycle round every year and our traditions have it the summer season starts with Memorial Day and ends on Labor D...

Holiday driving

Holiday driving: The months cycle round every year and our traditions have it the summer season starts with Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, when we take to the roads in our millions for weekend breaks and longer holidays. This makes this period one of the peaks for accidents. In 2009, the US Police Departments recorded some 5.5 million collisions in which people were killed or injured. Once the dust had settled and the statistics were collected, the Insurance Information Institute (III) confirmed $100 million in claims for injuries and damage to property. This is not small potatoes. Of course, that was then. Today, the price of gas is back up to around $4 a gallon. Experts think of this as an important psychological barrier. If the price goes above, it deters people from driving as often and as far. But, in the lead-up to Memorial Day, the price seems either to be retreating slightly or at least steadying below $4. The national average on May 19 was $3.93. With AAA predicting 35 million Americans on the road for the getaway on Memorial Day, this is good news although the price is still crimping travel plans. Whereas the getaway used to involve driving more than an average 50 miles, more people this year are expected to stay closer to home.

Holiday driving

So as we switch over from the winter to the summer blend of gas which burns more cleanly and reduces air pollution, now's the time to start planning the journeys. The first step is putting the vehicle through a routine maintenance to ensure you are going to be safe if you suddenly push the vehicle into a longer drive. The III confirms a high percentage of the accidents during the summer are caused either by driver fatigue or mechanical failures. If you do a short commute to work, suddenly stepping up to hours of cruising down a busy highway can test your powers of concentration. If you also have the family with you and the children are a distraction, the risk of a collision goes up fast. Always ensure the children have something to occupy them and be prepared to share the driving with someone responsible. That way, you stand a better chance of arriving in one piece.

You should also look at your insurance portfolio. You're putting the family in harm's way, so are you all covered for medical expenses? You've also loaded up a range of personal property including all the latest electronic must-haves for the younger passengers as well as clothes and other valuables. Are you sure all this is covered, particularly if you're driving out of state? Then, with the risk of accidents high, are you going to leave your own cover on the minimums, or will you consider increasing the comprehensive and collision coverage? Perhaps you should even think of umbrella cover to protect you in the worst case scenarios.

This may look excessive but it costs you nothing to get car insurance quotes for topping-up your existing cover. When you are only talking about a relatively small increase in premium, it can give you and the family peace of mind as you set off. It's no good thinking about car insurance after the accident.