Holiday events and celebrations are exciting times for family and friends to get together. With gas prices down and Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving this year, travel on the road is projected to increase for the upcoming holiday. The holiday season is rapidly approaching and motorists need to be mindful of actions that will make their holiday travel safer. Get-together with family and friends are meant to be joyous occasions, but they can turn into tragedy when people are injured or worse, killed, in holiday traffic accidents. Regardless of whether you plan to travel a great distance or stay close to home, keep these travel tips in mind to stay safe on the road.
- Before you start your trip make sure your vehicle is tuned up and in good shape for travel; this is especially important if you’re traveling north to winter driving conditions
- Plan you route in advance and check traffic reports and weather conditions before you leave. As backup bring along a paper map; even with a GPS it is wise to bring along another option in case the GPS fails.
- Restrain yourself and your passengers properly in seatbelts and/or car safety seats. Remember the rear seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride. Additionally, many states participate in an annual Thanksgiving “click-it or ticket” seatbelt enforcement campaign.
- Be flexible in setting your travel plans and leave early if possible to avoid the peak traffic hours. If snow is predicted during the time you plan to travel, change your schedule; it’s better to reschedule than to risk the lives of traveling family or friends.
- Stay fresh and alert when driving. Take plenty of breaks along the way and don’t push yourself to meet an unrealistic schedule. If you get tired pull off the road into a rest area or business, get out of the car for some fresh air, buy something to refresh you, or just relax until you feel revived. If that doesn’t work, find a motel or campground where you can stay the night. Forty-one percent of accidents are single vehicle crashes; these most often occur during the late night/early morning and late afternoon hours to drowsy drivers, those who have consumed alcohol, or both.
- Keep your speed down. Give yourself plenty of time and distance to react to the traffic around you. Let impatient and aggressive drivers pass you or go through intersections ahead of you so that you control the situation.
- Do not pass if you cannot see clearly enough to pass safely.
- If there will be drinking at your holiday get-together chose a designated driver who will remain alcohol free. Accidents can be avoided through awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and responsible decisions.
- Because driving requires your full attention, pull off the road to use your cellphone. Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents and texting and driving is now banned in the state of Florida as well as forty other states.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Make sure you have a jack and spare tire in case you get a flat. If you’re traveling to colder climates keep a blanket, boots, and an extra pair of gloves in the trunk of your car. Traction mats, kitty litter, or sand can be used to improve traction on icy surfaces. Also, keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line freezing in colder climates.
While it can be stressful imagining the miles that lay between you and your destination, a couple of deep breaths and a positive attitude can go a long way. Driving during the holiday season can be taxing and frustration can lead to poor decisions and risky behavior behind the wheel, but with the right attitude and some pre-planning it can be more enjoyable. Remember to relax and focus on what’s important: reaching your destination safely and having fun with family and friends.
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