This holiday season AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the end of the holiday season. With more people on the road, the chances of something going wrong.
So keep a couple of these safety tips handy. In addition to the universal rules – do not speed, do not text and do not drink and drive – we’ve assembled some additional tips to hopefully make holiday driving more enjoyable and safe, and to reduce those stress levels.
- The first step is to make sure your vehicle is operating properly. The lights, oil, tires (condition and pressure level), belts and hoses, brake fluid, antifreeze fluid and the condition of the battery should all be checked by a professional before leaving.
- Plan your route in advance and check traffic reports and weather conditions before you leave. As a backup, bring along a paper map. Even with a GPS system it’s wise to bring along another option should something occur where using a GPS is not possible.
- Follow speed limits and remember excess traffic and congestion on the roads may mean you’ll have to travel below posted limits. Drive defensively and don’t respond to aggressive drivers: It’s far less frustrating to let an aggressive driver pass than to become aggressive yourself. It’s also worth printing out a car accident checklist so that, in case the worst does happen, you know what to do.
- It sounds simple, but a good night’s sleep before departing can help make the trip more enjoyable. Be sure to take regular breaks during long road trips as it can be very dangerous to drive when you’re overly tired. Pull over and stop in a safe area if you are tired, or around every 100 miles or 2 hours.
- Be prepared for emergencies – keep a blanket, boots, an extra pair of gloves and a flashlight 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-filled to prevent fuel line freezing in colder climates.
- Don’t forget to secure your home when you leave, and do not post on social media sites that you will be away. Timers to turn lights on and off can give the impression that the property is occupied. If possible, have a neighbor or relative check on the house and even park a car in the driveway. Let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be there.
- Finally, relax. Driving during the holiday season can be stressful. Frustration can lead to poor decisions and risky behavior behind the wheel. However, with the right attitude and some pre-planning it can also be more enjoyable.
While it can be stressful imagining the miles that lay between you and your destination, a couple of deep breaths once in a while along with a positive attitude can go a long way. Remember to relax and focus on what’s truly important: reaching your destination safely and having fun with family or friends.