Planning a road trip for the holidays? Make sure you are prepared as the driving conditions during this time of year are extra dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, an average of 343 people die in car accidents each year over the three-day Christmas period, and an average of 373 during the three-day New Year holiday. Stay safe on the road with these tips:
- Have a qualified technician inspect your car before a hitting the open road.
- Look for worn, cracked, blistered or soft belts and hoses. Turn off the engine first when performing this task.
- Have your battery tested by a technician to ensure it is working properly.
- Check your tires every month for tread wear. Ensure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated.
- Check the coolant level and condition. Make sure the proper mixture of 50% water and 50% coolant is in the coolant reservoir.
- Inspect the level and condition of the engine oil; follow the recommendations in the owner’s manual.
- Make sure the windshield washer reservoir is filled.
- Keep an eye on the gas tank – don’t let the gas level get below one quarter of a tank.
Driving and Traveling Safety
- Keep a car emergency kit with you. It should include at least a first aid kit, a flashlight, batteries, warning devices like flares, and water bottles.
- Avoid alcohol, and over-the-counter or illegal drugs if you’re the driver.
- Check the weather forecast between your starting and stopping points. Choose routes that are less likely to be hit by severe weather like heavy snow.
- Increase your regular following distance if precipitation makes the road condition difficult. Avoid skids by applying the gas slowly to accelerate.
- Every person in your car must be properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled.
- Never use cell phones while driving. Out of all the distractions that occur while driving, cell phones are the most dangerous.
- Map your route ahead of time and be prepared for busy roads. Consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
- Make stops every 100 miles or two hours to avoid drowsiness or fatigue while driving.
- Tell your children not to talk to strangers when you’ve stopped at a public place. Supervise them and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
- Have roadside assistance contact information on hand in case of a road incident.
- Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times to get help in case of an emergency. American Automobile Association (AAA) and other companies offer apps for requesting help without making a phone call.