It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas trees are up, stockings are hung and the smell of freshly baked cookies is in the air. For many travelers, the holiday season can also be the most dangerous time of the year.
How dangerous? According to the Federal Highway Administration, adverse weather causes more than a million crashes and kills more than 7,000 Americans on average each year. The following driving tips will help you stay safe during your travels this holiday season.
- Have your car checked out before you leave. Take your car to your local auto shop for a quick once over, and make sure your tires are winter ready and properly inflated. The last thing you want to worry about while you make your way to Grandma’s is your car breaking down, leaving you stranded far away from home.
- Know your route. Become familiar with your route ahead of time so you can be ready for anything including construction, road closings and traffic hurdles. You should also check the weather along your route to see if you need to alter your plans. Keeping a paper map in your car is also a good idea. While it may seem archaic, it’s always good to have a back-up in case the GPS breaks or cannot receive signal.
- Pack a winter safety kit for the car. Don’t leave without the essentials for a safe road trip – a cellphone, car charger, ice scraper, jumper cables, blankets, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and tire chains might be necessary if you are traveling somewhere particularly snowy. Medicine and food also are good bets.
- Have necessary information handy. Whether you are going on a long road trip or just driving to work, you should always have your insurance info and roadside assistance information on hand in case of an accident or car trouble. Most insurance companies offer roadside assistance at an extra cost. Call your auto insurance company to see whether roadside assistance is part of your policy. If it is, make sure you know the number to call and if not, ask about adding it. It’s good to know you have someone to come help if you get stranded.
- Take breaks. Driving for long periods of time can be tiring so take plenty of breaks to keep you fresh and alert. If you feel too tired to drive, let another family member take over or pull over until you feel refreshed.
Everyone is in a rush during the holidays but make sure you slow down enough to take the proper precautions to ensure a happy and safe holiday for everyone.