We are entering the holiday season, which means you need to be even more vigilant when driving. People tend to travel long miles in order to visit family and friends over the holidays. Unfortunately, holiday driving around this time of the year is particularly dangerous, since we have intoxicated drivers, drivers unfamiliar with the area, increased traffic, and winter weather conditions to battle.
The safest way to spend your holidays is at home, but, whether you are flying, driving, or taking a bus or a train, you may encounter aberrant weather conditions, sick children, angry passengers, and long delays. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of safety tips for holiday travelers.
Take extra care to follow normal safety procedures
Practicing safe driving is always a good idea. It never hurts to be safer. However, practicing the following safety measures when driving over the holidays is a must.
Bring extra supplies
When winter weather threatens holiday driving, it is always wise to bring extra water, blankets, and food with you regardless of your travel method, though this is difficult for airplane travel. Holiday travelers of the past have been stuck in over 20 hour delays, sometimes without access to a working bathroom or nourishment. One driver was even trapped on a mountain pass overnight in freezing temperature after authorities closed an exit. Another was on a train that ran out of food and water. So, it never hurts to be prepared.
Lock your house up tight
If you’re going to be gone for a while, you should make sure your doors are locked. Having a timer that turns lights on and off can help create the illusion that someone is still home, as can having your neighbor park in your driveway, if he or she is willing. Lastly, do not post on Facebook or any other social media that you are leaving. That’s basically a calling card for buglers.
It’s hard not to lose your temper in a traffic jam, especially if you are trying to reach family or return home. However, during heavy traffic is when your driving should be at its most defensive. Cutting someone off, speeding up so someone can’t get over, weaving through lanes, and other rude driving behavior could lead to an accident. The minute it might spare you is not worth the time and money an accident would cost, to say nothing of the lives aggressive driving endangers. For more on defensive driving, check out our online defensive driving course.
Don’t drive drowsy
Driving while tired is never a wise decision, but it becomes a poorer one if you are driving at night, in winter weather, during a holiday season, or if you have a long trip ahead. If you’re feeling tired, find somewhere to pull over and rest. If you have a long drive, try to stop every two hours or so to take a brief break and relax your mind. Getting a good night sleep the night before can help prevent this too.
Wear your seatbelt
Though USA Today estimated that Christmas and New Years will actually have many traffic deaths, 105 and 156 respectively, it also believes that close to 40% of those deaths were preventable for those wearing a seatbelt. They may feel awkward, but they could help save your life.
Whether for holiday driving or just traveling in the winter, it is always a smart idea to fill up on gas before heading out. That last thing you want is to find yourself trapped in a blizzard or traffic jam without any gas to spare.
Often aggressive driving–or angry travelers in general–stems from the fear of being late. This fear can be dissipated if you give yourself an extra time cushion. Traffic or a delayed flight might still make you late, but you will feel less anxiety and travel with safety instead of time in mind if you plan for delays and leave early.
Plan your route
Another way to travel safety is by planning your trip ahead of time. While you can’t plan for weird weather conditions, you can check the weather forecast. While you can’t prevent a traffic jam, you can know your route before you hit the road. This will help lower your general stress level and make holiday traveling a bit less stressful.
Make sure your car is working
Even if your car is a well-seasoned traveler, it never hurts to check it over and make sure it is in optimal operating condition before you start that long road trip for the holiday. Its oil, tires, belts, hoses, brake fluid, antifreeze fluid, and battery should all be in checked before you drive.
While not a comprehensive list, these tips can help make your holiday trip a little less stressful and safer.
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