Holiday driving can be stressful. In addition to carrying gifts and trying to get home in time for the holidays, driving home at this time of year can also mean bad weather and heavy traffic. Here’s how to stay safe this holiday season:
1) Plan ahead. Since holiday travel is already stressful, do not make things more stressful with bad planning. As soon as you know you will need to drive somewhere for the holidays, create a checklist of things you will need to bring and things you need to do (such as fill up on gas) before you go. Check off this last the day before your trip and ensure that as many items as possible are packed into the car the day before. This will decrease the amount of last-minute worry and rushing that can leave you tired and distracted behind the wheel.
2) Have a passenger in charge of the cell phone. If you are driving with someone else, have the other person be responsible for the cell phone, leaving you free to focus on the road. If you are driving by yourself, turn off the cell phone. If you need to make a call, pull over first.
3) Check weather and road conditions before you go. You can get detailed road and weather reports the day of your trip by checking online. This information is vital, since it can let you know whether you need to leave early in order to arrive on time.
4) Wear your seatbelts at all times. Seat belts can save your life in an accident and can prevent serious brain injuries and spinal cord injuries in the event of a serious accident. Refuse to drive unless everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt.
5) Do not drive tired or while feeling stress. If you are tired or feel emotional, you may not be able to react correctly or quickly to prevent an accident. Get some rest, put off your plans, or find someone else to drive.
6) Have a map handy. Make sure that you know where you are going so that you do not get into an accident while trying to peer at a map over the steering wheel. Plan your route and print off as map that a passenger can read for you. Alternatively, use a GPS device with voice features to verbally guide you to your destination.
7) Check your car before you go. Make sure that your car is in good working order before you drive away for the holidays. If you will be driving into another state where snow is possible, invest in winter tires that will offer you better traction.
8) Plan ahead if you will be drinking. Tragically, drunk driving accidents still claim many lives each holiday season. Always have an alternative plan if you are attending a holiday event. Even if you do not plan to drink, drinks may be offered at the event. Have money handy for a cab or hotel or plan to stay overnight.