The holiday season is here once again, the time for gathering your loved ones near and enjoying the blessings of the past year. But sometimes your family isn't close enough to gather up without a little driving, which means many people will be taking road trips this season. To ensure that you get where you're going in one piece we have compiled a list of helpful safety tips to keep you and your family safe this season.
Pre-pack anything you can the night before you leave. It can be hectic trying to juggle presents, food dishes, and suitcases, should you be staying overnight anywhere. Packing any non-perishable items into the car the night before can ease the stress of getting ready on the day of the trip.
Leave early to give yourself plenty of time so you don't have to rush. Many accidents happen in winter weather because people are driving too fast for the conditions of the road. You can avoid this by leaving early to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. The holidays can be stressful and depending on the size of your family, it can be a difficult task to get everyone out the door on time. Avoid this by setting a departing time that gives you at least a half-hour more time than you need to get to your destination.
Make sure all routine maintenance is up-to-date on your vehicle. Nothing throws a monkey wrench into a holiday road trip more than a broken-down vehicle. Ensure this doesn't happen to you by making sure that your car or truck is in tip-top shape before you plan to drive. Have you had your oil changed recently? Are the transmission fluid and power steering fluid levels good? Do you have plenty of antifreeze and windshield washer fluid? Checking up on all these systems regularly can help keep your car running longer, and make sure you don't get stranded on the road at any time of year.
Do a car safety check before you start your drive. Now that you know the internal workings of your vehicle are in tip-top condition, its time to check the outer workings for safety hazards. If your tires are bald, consider replacing them before driving, especially if the weather conditions are less than optimal. Make sure your brakes are in good working condition and that the pads don't need replacing, and don't forget to check your driving lights, high beams, parking lights and blinkers to ensure that you maintain optimum visibility on the road. This article on preparing your car for winter will get you safely on the road.
Check for road closures and construction on your route before you depart. Road closures or unexpected detours can add stress to a holiday trip, making you drive faster than conditions allow for safely. By checking for traffic, road closures and construction before you depart, you can reduce the likelihood that you will be caught off-guard and will allow you to plan extra time into your trip if needed. Waze is a great navigation app that tracks road closures and construction in real time while you drive.
Minimize distractions while driving. Distracted driving is dangerous driving, avoid any unnecessary distractions by limiting cell phone usage, keeping music at a reasonable level, and ensuring that children are reminded of safe road trip behavior. Firming up holiday plans, and directions before you depart can help ensure you keep your cell phone usage to a minimum. If possible, have a co-pilot handle navigation and any out-of-car communication.
Take a blanket, water bottle, and snack for every person riding in the vehicle. Last but not least, prepare for the worst by bringing emergency supplies with you on your trip. Just in case you do get stranded in winter weather, it's a good idea to have blankets, emergency food supplies, water, and flashlights to keep yourself warm, and help officials locate you in an emergency.
The holidays are a great time to enjoy your family and your good fortune. Keep yourself and your family safe and fortunate on the road this year by following this simple list of holiday road trip safety tips. Think you've got the smarts to be a safe driver this season? Take this safe driving quiz to find out how much you really know!