The Winter holidays are one of the busiest travel times of the year. And while the media tend to focus on the busy airports, in reality, most long-distance holiday travel is by personal vehicle. With that many people on the roads, it’s more important than ever to think about safe driving. Of course some of the most obvious ways to arrive safely are by not texting while driving, not drinking and driving, making sure you are well rested, and obeying all traffic laws. But in addition to those, there are several other things you can do to help ensure you arrive at your destination safely. Here are a few ways to make your holiday drive more enjoyable and safe.
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Making Sure Your Car is Travel Ready
The very first thing you want to make sure of before you hit the road is that your car is travel ready. A day or two before you leave, it’s a good idea to check the following.
- Check the tire pressure and tread. Make sure your tires are fully inflated, including your spare. Check that the tread on all tires is in good condition.
- Check all fluids including the transmission fluid, oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield fluid.
- Check the battery and all connections for any signs of corrosion. Also, make sure there is water in the battery.
- Check all belts and hoses for signs or wear and tear.
- Check to make sure all lights on your vehicle are working including your headlights – both dim and bright – tail lights, emergency lights, reverse lights and turn signals.
- Make sure you have an emergency car kit.
If you are not comfortable checking these things yourself, let a certified mechanic, such as those at Bossier Chrysler Dodge Jeep, service your car and help make sure it is ready for holiday travel.
Plan Your Route
Always plan your route in advance. Although many vehicles these days come equipped with, or their owners have added, some type of GPS navigation, it never hurts to familiarize yourself with the route your will be traveling. Go ahead and plan the best places to stop for rests, breaks and food – always in a well-lit, busy area. Also, it is always a good idea to carry a paper map in addition to any GPS you may use.
Book Hotels in Advance
If your drive is going to take more than one day, go ahead and book your hotel before your leave home. Long road trips can be exhausting, and with so many drivers on the road, you don’t want to leave it up to chance that you will be able to find a room. Nothing is more dangerous than driving around an unfamiliar city late at night, tired.
Remain Aware and Alert
Make sure you are well-rested before hitting the road for your holiday travel. You should be awake and alert, and always aware of the cars around you and on the road ahead of you. If you start feeling restless, achy or tired, pull off and take a break for a few minutes. Even better, if traveling with family or friends, switch drivers every few hours if possible. If you are traveling alone, be sure to stop every so often at a safe place, get out of the car and walk around. Know your limits, and be sure to stop when you are tired.
Give Yourself Extra Time
When you are planning your trip, make sure to give yourself plenty of extra time. Traffic, detours, bad weather, construction, and accidents can take time to get through. Additionally, when driving across different states, you are going to encounter different speed limits. Take that into consideration as well. And while we always want to get to our destinations as quickly as possible, always obey the speed limit.
Be Ready for Possible Emergencies
The Boy Scouts were definitely onto something with their motto, Always Be Prepared. You never know what can happen while you’re on the road due to weather, human error or other situations. Therefore it is best that you always keep a well-stocked emergency kit in your car. While you can find prepackaged kits for sale, it is actually less expensive if you make your own. Make sure it at least includes the following basics:
A small first aid kit
A blanket or extra clothes such as a jacket, socks and boots – especially if traveling where it snows.
Flashlight with extra batteries
Bottled water and non-perishable snacks
Traveling is stressful, and holiday travel can be even more stressful. Unfortunately, irritation, tiredness and frustration can all lead to poor decision-making and risky behavior behind the wheel. It is important that you do your best to relax. Pull off somewhere safe and take a break every so often. Listen to calming music. Do whatever it is you need to do to help yourself relax, yet remain focused and alert. And remember what is truly important: spending time with your family and friends once you reach your destination.
Be safe and have a happy holiday season!