Important Holiday Driving Travel Tips
Wondering how to make this year’s car trip to Grandma’s a safe and happy experience? A little extra time and planning can save you hassle, money, even your life.
Rest up. Before you even get in your car, try to get a good night’s sleep, don’t stay up all night packing or baking those extra cookies. Driver fatigue is a major cause of car wrecks, and filling up on coffee or energy drinks won’t take the place of being well rested. In fact, once the caffeine wears off, you’re at risk for a bigger crash, in more ways than one! Try not to leave right after a heavy meal, when most of us get sleepy, especially if you’ve been drinking alcoholic beverages.
Plan well. There are many resources out there that will provide you with information on the best routes to take, the best times to avoid commuter traffic, and weather related road conditions. Check out the Federal Highway Administration’s web site for links to information on weather and road conditions and the availability of travel web sites and 511 telephone services. If at all possible, try to drive during daylight hours when visibility is at its best.
Check up. Make sure your vehicle is safe. Check the oil, tire pressure, coolant, etc. a day or two before you travel. Don’t leave it until the last minute when you might forget something important. Make sure you have a good spare tire, jumper cables and an emergency kit. If you’re traveling in cold weather, a blanket or two in the trunk could be a lifesaver.
Bring activities. If traveling with kids (or adults who act like them) bring along plenty of activities to occupy their time. You might want to stick with quieter games and books; do you really want to listen to that Game Boy chirping at you for 8 hours? But remember, this is a great time for family interaction, don’t just set them up with a movie and ignore them the whole trip.
Wear your seat belt. (Do we really have to go over this?)
Take breaks!! It’s recommended you take a break every 2 hours or 100 miles. This is particularly essential when traveling with kids or pets. It’s also a good time to switch off drivers to further avoid fatigue. Stop for food instead of grabbing drive-through and eating on the go. Eating while driving is just as big a distraction as phoning, texting, or arguing with the back seat.
Don’t text. Let a passenger answer your cell phone or wait to return calls and texts when you are at a rest stop. Many states have outlawed phoning and texting while driving, so it isn’t just unsafe, it’s illegal. Drivers who use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
It doesn’t take much to prepare for a holiday driving trip. If you follow these easy steps you’ll find your drive will go much smoother. Imagine arriving at Grandma’s with a smile on your face because of a smooth, safe, fun experience instead of a frown of frustration, or worse, not arriving at all.