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July 4th is almost here. Check out these summer driving safety tips

Updated July 5, 2024 - 7:40 pm

Travel around the Fourth of July holiday is projected to be extremely busy, with a record 71 million Americans to be on the move.

Eighty-five percent of the travelers, or about 60 million people, will hit the road to get to their destination. Vacationers are likely to tack on a couple of extra days this summer holiday compared with briefer stays in past years, according to AAA Nevada.

“Travelers are opting to take longer trips with Independence Day falling on a Thursday,” Brian Ng, AAA Nevada spokesman, said in a statement. “This further fuels summer travel demand that is showing no signs of slowing down.”

Local transportation officials don’t have an estimate on how many travelers will drive to Las Vegas to enjoy the holiday. Because the holiday falls on a different day each year, it’s tough to provide an accurate estimate based on historical data, according to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority officials said they didn’t expect to have a July 4 weekend visitor projection until later this week.

Drivers should expect the heaviest traffic congestion on Interstate 15 southbound as Southern Californians head home. July 6 will see slightly heavier than normal traffic. Then between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m. on July 7, the heaviest traffic congestion is expected on the interstate heading toward the state line, according to the RTC.

The RTC recommends drivers sign up for RTC travel alerts and use navigation apps to get the latest travel conditions before they begin their trip.

‘Don’t be afraid to take the keys’

As always, state transportation officials urge those enjoying Independence Day in Southern Nevada to be safe behind the wheel and to never drive impaired.

“Don’t drink and drive,” Anita Pepper, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Public Safety, said. “When it comes to road safety, always wear your seat belt. Secondly, designate a driver or plan ahead with a ride share.”

With the July 4 holiday associated with gatherings and cookouts, alcohol is often involved. Pepper said nobody should feel ashamed to alert their group that they have had too much to drink and to ask for assistance.

“Don’t be embarrassed to tell your friends, ‘Hey, I need to stay here tonight.’ Don’t be embarrassed to call a friend for a ride. … And if you have a friend over and you feel like they’re impaired, don’t be afraid to take the keys,” Pepper said.

Zero Fatalities Nevada will offer a Lyft code for the holiday, that will get users $5 off a one-way ride. Good between 12 p.m. July 4 and 2 a.m. July 5, users can enter the code SAFEFOURTHRIDE in the Lyft app to receive the discount. Quantities are limited with only 200 codes available to redeem.

Summer driving safety tips

Visitors and Southern Nevada residents traveling in and around the Las Vegas Valley for the holiday weekend and beyond this summer should brush up on seasonal driving safety. Triple-digit temperatures can lead to vehicle problems and safety issues if precautions are not taken.

Motorists should have their air conditioning units checked to ensure they are in proper working order. “It’s crucial,” Pepper said.

The triple-digit heat in Southern Nevada also can accelerate wear on vehicle belts, hoses and tires. Keeping up on regularly scheduled maintenance should help drivers avoid such issues, but checking on the health of such car parts is also recommended.

“Make sure that they’re being inspected for bulges, blisters and cracks and to replace anything showing any noticeable wear to avoid breakdowns,” Pepper said. “Tires can deteriorate in very high temperatures, which can lead to blowouts. So you always want to check the wear of the tire and look for any tread wear down or tread separation.”

Keeping vehicle tires inflated to their recommended pressure is important anytime, but especially during the summer, Pepper highlighted.

Children in cars

When it’s hot outside, it’s much hotter inside vehicles that don’t have the air conditioning blasting. Although it’s common sense to not leave children in a vehicle unattended, each year such occurrences happen, with reports of children dying in hot cars.

“We always remind everyone, never leave a child in a vehicle, not even for a minute,” Pepper said. “Temperatures can change really quickly in a car.”

A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult, so the potential of heatstroke is especially high in children when increased heat is present, such as the inside of a vehicle.

Parents and anyone tasked with caring for children should always check the backseat of their vehicles when exiting, even in times when you don’t normally have a child present, Pepper recommended.

When someone who has a set routine, for instance, on their way to work each day and who might take on the task of dropping their kid off for child care in the summer, could be so set in their routine that they forget their child might be in the backseat, especially if the child is asleep.

“When you get out of your car, just look around, look in the backseat make sure no kids are in the car,” Pepper said. “You don’t think you would leave a child in the car, but it happens. If everyone could just take a beat before they go into work (or) go into their house and make sure there’s no child or animals in the car, that’s just another precaution that we can take.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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