The holidays are one of the best times of the year, as this allows you to get together with friends and celebrate with family members. During this season, millions of Americans across the country will be hitting the road.
If you’re thinking of driving during the holidays, you’ll need to keep safety top of mind, as the season brings various challenges that make safe driving tough. Limited daylight and harsh weather conditions, for instance, can dampen your Yuletide spirits and increase your risk of getting into a road accident.
Before starting your journey, keep these nine suggestions in mind:
1. Get Your Vehicle Maintenance Done
Whether you’re driving a classic car or a modern high profile vehicle, you need to get all your basic maintenance done. Give yourself several days to do the following:
- Test the battery of your vehicle
- Replace the wiper blades if they’re damaged or old
- Fill the windshield washer reservoir to the appropriate level
- Check for tread depth and tire pressure
If you come across problems that you are unable to fix on your own, bring your vehicle to a service center for assessment and repair. When your tires are out of balance, for instance, get a reliable auto mechanic to fix that issue for you. They will use state-of-the-art car wheel balancing machines to position the tires of your vehicle safely and correctly.
2. Check the Weather before Leaving
Know the weather at your home, the route you’re taking and your destination. Before leaving, take a few minutes to check weather forecasts and conditions on your preferred weather app or website.
3. Be Mindful of Your Speed
Many motorists want to get to their destination on time. Driving quickly without paying attention to your speedometer, however, is not a good idea.
Give yourself plenty of distance and time to react to your surroundings, specifically to the passersby and other motorists around you. An article from Automotive Fleet magazine noted that a driver’s likelihood of getting into a road accident goes up by two percent for every one percent rise in speed. By paying close attention to how fast your vehicle goes, you can minimize your risk of accident and get to your destination safely.
4. Practice Winter Driving
If you have time to spare, drive your vehicle on an empty parking lot on a snowy day to get a refresher on winter driving. Hone your turns and stops, so you can drive to your destination during the cold season with confidence.
5. Prepare a Winter Emergency Kit
Sometimes, accidents happen even if you’re taking steps to prevent them. If you get into an accident, you’ll want to have a winter road kit that you can use during emergencies.
This kit should consist of the following items:
- First aid kit
- Snowbrush and ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Traction mats and cat litter (ideal for drivers who are traveling with their pets)
- A set of warm clothing
- Additional blankets, gloves and hats to stay warm
- A couple of chargers for your mobile phone
- Warning flares
- Flashlights with fresh batteries
6. Avoid Texting and Driving
Your focus should be on the road, not your phone. Texting and answering can compromise your reaction times. If you need to answer a text or call back, pull over to a safe place. Alternatively, you can let one of your passengers manage your calls or messages.
7. Keep Your Children Safe and Busy
If you have little ones joining you, take steps to keep them safe and preoccupied throughout the entire journey. You don’t want to hear the distracting question, “Are we there yet?” repeated every ten minutes or so.
Before you leave for your destination, buckle your kids using seat belts, booster seats and safety seats depending on their age, weight and height.
Also, Use books, games and gadgets that will keep your young ones mentally engaged and stop from distracting your driving. Also, have a stash of snacks handy in your vehicle. This is important especially if you’ll be spending more time on the road.
8. Get a Designated Driver
If your holiday celebrations will include parties (and drinking), make sure you have a designated driver with you. This person should not drink alcohol, so that you can enjoy happy hour and have a safe ride back home.
9. Safeguard Your Vehicle from Theft and Break-ins
Unsavory individuals can break into people’s cars and steal valuable belongings while the driver is away. Don’t let thieves ruin your holiday travel experience. Prevent car theft by parking mindfully and stowing your valuable inside the trunk. These simple actions can minimize your vehicle from becoming an easy target during the holiday season.
Stay safe by taking note of these nine holiday road tips. Driving safely and smartly during this season will allow you to get to your destination in one piece.