It’s that time of year: a time of constant driving, family/friend visits, and stuffing yourself full of holiday goodies.
But what is of concern is the driving conditions during the holiday season. Not only can the weather be dangerous, but there are more drivers out there due to holiday traveling. Additionally, there’s a higher chance that these drivers may be alcohol-impaired at this time of year.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (and as reported by Elite Driving School), alcohol causes 40 percent of traffic deaths occurring over Christmas and New Year’s.
You can’t avoid driving unless you don’t plan on visiting anyone over the holidays. With that in mind, we have some tips for you to ensure that you have a safe holiday season.
Ensure that your car passes inspection
Before leaving for any trips, you should have your vehicle inspected for any issues, no matter how minor. You never know: one small inspection could save your life. Furthermore, make sure your car has its oil changed and fluids current.
Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle!
Your vehicle’s emergency kit should contain the following:
- Durable bag to hold supplies
- Gas can
- Jumper cables
- Roadside flares
- Spare tire and jack
- Flat tire inflation tool
- Energy bars and other easy-to-eat, long-lasting foods
- Bottled water
- Foldable shovel
- First aid kit
- Extra clothing to keep warm
- Extra coat
- Multi-purpose tool
- Copies of personal documents
- Cash on hand
- Extra set of car keys
- Rain gear
Make sure your home is under adequate security
Before you leave your home, you should ensure that your home remains safe while you’re gone. Have a security system installed and working correctly. Consider implementing a home-monitoring plan for however long you plan to be gone, and if you have someone you trust, have this trusted person check on your home periodically.
Know how to drive safely under all weather conditions
Be as safe as possible when you drive. Whether you are staying in Florida for the Holiday Season or driving out-of-state, you need to keep in mind that your vehicle isn’t invincible. If it is raining, take precautions and slow down when necessary. If you’re heading into a snowy state, be prepared to drive slowly. Furthermore, ensure that — to be safe — you have all-weather tires equipped.
If you want to be at least on time when you arrive at your destination, you should head out much earlier than usual, for there are often roadblocks and other issues that could slow down your drive/flight. Accidents, inclement weather, and rush hour can affect the drive to your destination.
Rely on alternative routes
If you have Google Maps or any similar GPS that can provide you with real-time updates and rerouting, then you should take full advantage of alternative routes if you experience a traffic issue on your planned journey. If you don’t have a capable GPS, then you should purchase one for this very reason.
Frequently take breaks while driving
Driving long distances can be exhausting. To prevent any accidents from occurring, you should take frequent rest stops to stretch and walk a bit so that you can recharge yourself.
Have a cell phone charger in your car
You do not want your cell phone to die or be near death as you’re traveling long distances. What if you end up in a car accident? What if your car breaks down and you’re stranded somewhere? You’ll need a cell phone to make calls that’ll get you back on track.
Take meal breaks and remain hydrated
While you take breaks, you should take the time to drink plenty of water and eat well. Remaining hydrated and nourished is key to maintaining energy.
Do not succumb to highway hypnosis
Highway hypnosis occurs when you’re traveling great distances, leading to an altered mental state where you’re subconsciously controlling the vehicle while your mind is focused elsewhere. You respond to familiar situations, but you are unprepared for unexpected issues.
This hypnosis can lead to sudden and potentially deadly accidents. To avoid highway hypnosis, drive during the hours that you’re generally awake, break up the drive (by days, if you need to), keep the car temperature cool (or even cold), talk to passengers, keep your eyes moving, and eat light meals before and during the drive.
Wash your hands and use antibacterial sanitizer when possible
You’ll be touching many objects on your travels, whether they are public bathrooms, public spaces, gas station pumps, or door handles, so you need to make sure you don’t get sick during your vacation. Always wash your hands whenever you take a rest stop, and just in case you’re unable to wash your hands, have some hand sanitizer on the side. It’s flu season, and the flu is contagious.
Give someone you trust your itinerary and provide them with updates
Please give someone you trust your entire plan, where you’ll be stopping, and essential contact information. Furthermore, update your contact whenever you do take breaks. This way, if something happens to you, this person will be able to contact you or find you in cases of emergency.
There are many drivers on the roads on the holidays, but if you consider the tips listed, you’ll be able to keep as safe on your travels as possible. Be safe and have a wonderful holiday season!