Traveling for vacation always sounds like a great idea on paper, but then comes the packing, preparing for the time away from work, the 20-page instruction manual about the dog for the petsitter and the fact that the kids are going to be with you…enough to momentarily make you consider throwing away said paper. But only for an instant, because there’s nothing like getting away from it all!
Yet this doesn’t have to be (too) stressful; these trips often end up being life’s greatest moments in the making. To help reduce any worries and to make your journey easier, we’ve put together a list of safety tips and technology in Ford vehicles designed to keep you safe and sound along the way. As an added measure, we’ve also thrown in a few homegrown solutions to various travel-related odds and ends.
Vehicle maintenance: Do basic maintenance before heading out, including checking tire tread depth, tire pressures and oil and water levels.
Seat belts: You might be thinking, really? Isn’t this fairly basic knowledge? Since it remains the most important piece of safety equipment, we’re revisiting proper buckling-up. Long stretches of highway can sometimes result in occupants slipping into what they think is a more comfortable belted position, but remember, you need to ensure that it tightly encircles your hips, not your waist. Never place the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
Luggage/cargo: When filling up the cargo areas of the vehicle, always place the heaviest items close to the vehicle floor or truck bed so that in the event of a quick stop, those items remain in place and do not move forward in the vehicle where they can collide with passengers or other materials.
Children: Keep small children belted in safety or booster seats; children under four-feet, four inches tall who weigh less than 79 pounds should by regulation be in child safety seats or booster seats and properly belted. The safety seats need to be securely fitted to the rear seat. The latest Ford cars are now designed with ISOFIX fittings, which provide a rigid and robust connection between the vehicle and the seats.
Head rests: Make sure the tilt and height of all head rests have been correctly adjusted.
Airbags: Avoid placing objects over the airbag cover. The airbag may not inflate properly and might force an object into that person, causing severe injury or death. The instrument panel grab handle should never be used for storage. The path of an inflating airbag must be kept clear at all times.
Speed limits: If you’re traveling across the country, be aware of the speed limits and road laws of the states you will travel through. Otherwise, a local county or state employee may remind you.
Mobile phone: Use a voice-activated, hands-free connectivity system like Ford SYNC® to control your mobile phone or navigation system, and make sure it is operational before you hit the road.
The driver: Take regular breaks on a long trip to avoid driving when tired, and don’t drink and drive.
The following technology is available on some current-model Ford Vehicles.
SYNC: The fully integrated, voice-activated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system for Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phones allows hands-free calling, among its many available features.
MyFord Touch™: This driver-connect technology provides an intuitive way for you to connect in-car technologies and your digital world.
Active park assist: This is an advanced new system that automatically guides the vehicle into parallel parking spaces. It uses two ultrasonic sensors to scan for a suitable space between parked cars. Once a space has been identified, which can be as little as 1.2 times the length of the vehicle, the driver is informed and clear instructions are shown in the center display. The driver controls the accelerator and brake pedal, and selects a forward or reverse gear, while the steering system is automatically controlled by the vehicle.
Auto high beams: This will detect light sources ahead and automatically switch the headlamps between main and low beam to avoid glare and help maximize visibility when driving at night.
Adaptive cruise control: This is a radar-based cruise control system that helps to maintain a preset cruising speed as well as a preset distance from vehicles ahead. If the system detects the vehicle in front is slowing down or is too close, it decelerates automatically. Once the road is clear again, it will accelerate back to the chosen cruising speed.
Bugs: Don’t want a windshield or bumpers full of dead insects? Wipe the windshield down with a dryer sheet so that the bugs won’t stick as easily, and give the bumpers a shot of cooking spray.
Hot seats: Pack a few bed sheets to drape over the vehicle’s seats in case they get too hot to sit on from baking in the sun.
Tow bar: You can slice open a tennis ball to cover your tow bar when it’s not in use, which will protect it from scratches and keep out moisture.
Sun glare: Sometimes what’s best for us requires us to look silly, so: To avoid glare and squinting while hiking, put a drop of baby oil on your finger, dip it in cooled wood ashes, then swipe it under your eyes. You’ll look like a football player, but it works. Or, you can be a party-pooper and just wear sunglasses; pack a spare pair for when you or a family member inevitably sits on them in the car.
Sticker shock: If a parking sticker from the beach, national park or the like melds to your windshield, saturate it with cooking oil before you try to scrub it off.