(NAPSI)-When planning your next getaway, remember that safety begins before you pull out of the driveway. Here are some hints that can help:

• Be sure your vehicle is ready for the trip by having all recommended services performed, with particular attention paid to tires, engine coolant and fluids, windshield wipers and the air-conditioning system. Check your automaker’s website–many manufacturers, such as Subaru of America (www.subaru.com), post seasonal maintenance tips online.

• Stay safe while driving–take regular breaks, switch drivers periodically if possible, and pull over in a safe place to rest if you feel drowsy. Avoid distractions by using a hands-free device if you must make a call, and never text while driving.

• When traveling with kids, keep them busy with an assortment of games and entertainment. Happy kids means fewer arguments, which will help the driver focus on safe driving. Take along personal electronics, such as MP3 players and portable DVD players, but don’t forget about some of the classic “unplugged” road games, such as “license plate alphabet.”

• Exploring the outdoors is often a big part of any road trip, no matter what time of year you travel. For sun safety, bring sunscreen and apply it before getting in the car. Even an arm propped on the windowsill gets sun, as do faces and foreheads from an open sunroof.

Shop dog Stella and her chew toy

Shop dog Stella and her chew toy

• Keep pets safe–be sure they are secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier or see your automotive dealer for a divider that safely separates pets and cargo from the passenger area. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle; even on a cool day, it can become dangerously hot inside. Visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website at www.aspca.org for more tips on safe pet travel.

• If your vehicle doesn’t have all-wheel drive, as all Subaru models do, consider making it a “must-have” feature in your next car or crossover. While well known for great traction in snow and ice, all-wheel drive can also provide excellent traction in the rain and on dirt and gravel roads, as well as sports car−like handling on dry roads.

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