The Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest in the US for travel. It’s also when the nation’s roads are most congested.

That’s a problem for all sorts of reasons. One of them: traffic congestion commonly leads to accidents and tickets, and both incidents can cause car insurance rates to spike. 

Luckily, we’ve got some tips that’ll help you avoid all of the above this July Fourth and beyond. From installing the latest safety features, to making sure your insurance is up to date, we’ve got you covered.

Prep Your Vehicle

Inspect Your Vehicle

Before you hit the road, properly inspect your car. First, make sure its safety features-- airbags, automatic seatbelts, and tire pressure monitoring systems are good examples—are in working order. Second, make sure the tires are aligned and have enough tread. Third, make sure the brakes and engine are good to go.

Simple steps like these can keep you from getting into an accident.

Update Your Insurance Information

Always review your car insurance policy before heading out on a road trip. That includes driving to a nearby city or state to celebrate July Fourth, of course. Do you have adequate collision and comprehensive coverage? What about uninsured or underinsured motorist protection?

If you need to update anything as a result of that review, do it now. Don’t wait until later. Updating your policy after you get into accident or get a ticket won’t do you any good.

Bring Emergency Backup

What if your car breaks down on the open road? Or what if you get stuck in traffic for hours on end? The latter’s especially possible around July Fourth. Regardless, a little prep work before you hit the highway will allow you to answer those and similar questions without breaking a sweat.

For instance, put a first aid kit in your trunk. Also, pack a flashlight, jumper cables, spare tires, and even road flares. You may need any number of those items if your car breaks down or if it crashes.

As for the bumper-to-bumper traffic mentioned earlier, keep that from becoming a problem by bringing water and snacks. Fill up on gas as soon as possible too. Few things are worse than being low on gas with no freeway exit in sight.

Be a Cautious Driver

Drive in the Daytime

Early morning is the best time to be on the road. That’s when you’ll encounter the least amount of traffic. As a result, you’ll save on gas and time. You’ll also be less likely to get into an accident than you would if you drove later in the day.

If you can’t leave early, drive during the middle of the day. You’ll still avoid a lot of congestion with that strategy. Whatever you do, avoid driving at night. Assuming that’s an option, of course. Driving at night means dealing with rush-hour traffic, decreased visibility, and drunk drivers. 

Need some help planning your route so you can stick to those ideal, early-in-the-day hours? Use your GPS built into your smartphone. It’ll help you figure out when you should leave and when you’ll arrive at your destination. It’ll even offer alternate routes in case construction or congestion are in your way.

Observe the Speed Limit

This piece of advice might seem like a no-brainer. Still, you’d be surprised how many drivers disregard it, especially during holiday weekends.

Speeding--on packed freeways, in particular--can cause major traffic collisions. To keep them from happening, and to keep your car insurance premiums from skyrocketing, follow the speed limit this July Fourth.

Report Reckless Driving

If you see a car swerving between lanes, keep your distance. If possible, report the license plate number to the police too. The driver could be impaired. Regardless, he or she is putting other vehicles—and people--at risk.

Speaking of drinking and driving: if you’re even thinking of doing it this July Fourth, don’t. DUI offences have a major impact on car insurance rates. They may even cause you to lose your license. Learn more by reading our article on drunk driving and DUI insurance.

The bottom line here: follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a safe Fourth of July weekend. Which is good, as even a small accident could lead to an eye-opening premium hike down the road.