Road Safety Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season is unfortunately the most dangerous time of year for road travel. Many Americans travel to visit relatives during the holidays and local traffic typically increases due to holiday shopping, holiday parties, and other social events during the winter months. This winter take time to learn a few best practices so you and your loved ones can stay safe on the road and enjoy the holidays without accidents or injuries.

Plan Ahead

If you plan to take a long trip through unfamiliar areas, be sure to plan your route. Try to develop at least one backup plan in case an accident or bad weather prevents you from taking your originally planned route. If you intend to drive alone, make sure you get adequate rest before a long trip and plan for rest stops along the way. If you are traveling with others, see if you can have them help you facilitate a safer journey.

Encourage Passengers to Help

Having passengers with you can be advantageous and even increase safety in some ways. Consider having your passenger act as a navigator and have him or her handle directions or a GPS navigation device so you can focus on driving. However, also bear in mind that passengers can create distractions.

Children can grow restless during long car trips, and arguing siblings can pose a major distraction for any driving parent. Make sure kids have snacks, toys, games, and books to keep them distracted for long car rides. Many parents report that portable video games like tablets and Nintendo DS systems are fantastic distractions for kids on road trips. When it comes to adult passengers, try to keep conversations tame to prevent flaring emotions behind the wheel and do not be shy about asking passengers to tone it down so you can focus on driving.

Keep Emergency Supplies Ready

Your vehicle should have an emergency road kit for any long trip. This means jumper cables, a spare tire, tools to change a flat tire, and other items you may need an emergency. Road flares or small hazard signs can help prevent an accident if you need to pull over for any reason, such as a flat tire or engine breakdown. Keep a few bottles of water and some high-protein snacks in your vehicle in case you wind up waiting for help in cold weather.

Drive Defensively

Driving defensively means avoiding and disengaging from aggressive drivers, maintaining appropriate speeds for conditions, and staying alert at all times. The heart of distracted driving is good judgment; in some cases, it may be necessary to drive slower than the posted speed limit due to weather conditions or other dangerous driving conditions. Some police officers may conduct traffic stops for driving too fast for conditions, even if the driver is at or slightly below the posted speed limit.

Perform Routine Vehicle Maintenance

Take the time to check your vehicle’s brake system, fluid levels, oil, and tire pressure before any long trip during the winter. It may be necessary to purchase snow tires for your vehicle if you plan to drive through an area that sees lots of winter precipitation. Snow tires help a vehicle maintain better contact with the road surface during winter weather and you can remove them after the winter ends to save them for next year and replace them with your regular tires.

Proper preparation, good judgment, and safe driving practices are the best ways to prevent winter road accidents. This holiday season keep these tips in mind to help protect you and your loved ones so you can avoid serious accidents and enjoy the holidays to the fullest.