10 #Travel Tips for Holiday Road Trip #Safety
According to The Association for Safe International Road Travel, more than 1.24 million people die and 50 million are injured in car accidents on the roads of the world each year. AAA Travel forecasts nearly 47 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, and another 88 million Americans will hit the highways around Christmas and New Years, so it's especially important to be extra diligent about traveling safely during the upcoming holiday season.
If your family is hitting the road to visit loved ones and friends, getting your vehicle ready for a safe trip needs to be on that already-crammed list of things to do. Before you hit the road, be sure you've prepared yourself, your car, and your family for the adventure ahead. And when you're on the road, make sure everybody in the car is properly restrained by their seatbelt or child safety seat!
- Prep your vehicle.
Make sure it’s tuned up and in good shape. Check tire pressure and tread depth, replace wiper blades, check your headlights and fog lights, fill the windshield washer reservoir, refresh your antifreeze, and test the battery. Start your trip with a full tank of gas. Since visibility is so critically important to road safety, make sure your windows and windshields are clean before you leave.
- Prep yourself.
You've probably been driving for many years, and may have forgotten some of the simple rules of the road you learned in Driver's Ed. Give yourself a refresher course here at AskPatty, where you can get a memory boost on such important aspects of driving as correct following distance, how to use that left lane correctly, and turn-signal reminders (my greatest weakness!). Before getting behind the wheel for your holiday travels, map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic. Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
- Prep your kids.
Make sure you bring plenty of books, games, DVDs, or whatever it takes to keep the little ones comfortable and prevent them from distracting the driver who needs to focus all attention on the road. Don’t forget the snacks, and be prepared with a few gallon-sized plastic bags, just in case anybody gets carsick!
- Prep your emergency/survival kit.
Be sure you have jumper cables, non-flammable tire inflator, emergency water, flashlight and spare batteries, spare jackets and emergency blanket, and such first-aid necessities as batteries, antiseptic towelettes, and dressings. In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
- Stay alert.
Sitting upright will help keep you attentive. Take plenty of breaks, and do not push yourself to meet an unrealistic schedule. If you get tired, pull off the road into a rest area or business and get some fresh air. If you can’t stay alert and focused, find a motel or campground to spend the night.
- Be even more aware of other drivers.
The reason is obvious: Holidays mean parties and drinking, which means more alcohol-impaired drivers. Officials with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) cite alcohol as a contributing factor in roughly 52 percent of all deadly accidents on Christmas Day and 57 percent on New Year’s Eve.
You can never be too prepared, especially when it comes to your car and being ready for whatever may happen when you’re on the road. Since road emergencies can happen to anyone, it's important to know what to do in case of an emergency. If your car should break down, be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Turn on hazard lights to warn traffic approaching from behind.
- Take nearest exit to seek help or pull off to the far right shoulder. Once you're safely out of traffic, then it is time to call for roadside assistance.
Once you're on the side of the road and waiting for help to arrive, be sure you follow these recommendations:
- Raise the hood of the car to let others know assistance is needed.
- Set up emergency warning triangles to alert approaching traffic.
Remember: When you hit the roads to go on your holiday vacation you're sharing the highways and byways with a lot of other tense and weary drivers. With the help of these tips, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and enjoy your holiday with family and friends. Having a good attitude, getting your car road worthy, and staying alert to the conditions around you will make your holiday travels more enjoyable and much safer.