Smart driving tips for Memorial Day and summer

Despite the ever-climbing price of gas, summer is driving season – and it all kicks off with Memorial Day. Americans hit the road to visit friends and family, soak up sunshine at the beach or venture off for a vacation in the great outdoors. But because costs are increasingly a concern, you should do everything you can to avoid road hazards that will hit your wallet hard.

You can take precautions both before you leave and while you’re on the road for Memorial Day trips. Keep these driving tips in mind to make your summer holidays more fun and less costly.

* Road construction detours: Planning your driving route this Memorial Day weekend should involve more than glancing at the old Atlas. Road construction is getting under way, and detours will be implemented throughout the country. For drivers, that means idling in long lines or wasting gas by going far out of the way. Hit the Web to check your state’s Department of Transportation site, where you can find the most up-to-date detour information. Knowing where the detours are, use a mapping site like Google Maps that allows you to adjust your route. You’ll be able to find your own way around the construction and instantly see what the mileage is, so you can choose the shortest route.

* Potholes: These nasty side effects of winter can give your wallet and your car a shocking bump. Driving through potholes can weaken tires, throw off your vehicle’s alignment, dent rims and wheels and send hubcaps flying. Any of those problems can cost you – in the short term and the long run. Go around potholes whenever you can and slow down as much as traffic will allow, if you can’t swerve to avoid them. Watch out for puddles – they might be hiding nasty potholes.

* Gas prices: It’s true that there isn’t a great way to avoid paying the price of gas. However, you can prepare by searching out the best gas prices available to you. If you use a smartphone, you’re in luck – you’ll be able to use apps that can point you toward the lowest prices, relative to wherever you might be. If you’re not smartphone equipped, check gas price websites before you leave for your vacation to get an idea of where the values are.

* Traffic violations: Ignoring the rules of the road can cost you, so be sure you’re on the right side of the law. Keep your speed to the posted limits, as police often crack down on speeding drivers over the Memorial Day holiday. In addition, be sure that you and everyone in the car are properly wearing safety belts; not wearing them can result in a fine. You should also make sure to always signal your turns, stop fully at stop signs, and never, under any circumstances drive under the influence – for your own safety and that of others.