10 Holiday Travel Safety Tips for Drivers
If you plan to drive long distances to visit family and friends this holiday season, keep in mind that your trip could be more hazardous than at other times of the year. More people travel around the holidays, and early winter weather can cause dangerous road conditions.
Follow these tips to ensure you and your loved ones arrive at your holiday destination safely.
Get your car checked
One of the most important things to do before you hit the road is to get your car inspected. Make sure everything is in tip-top shape, especially if you plan on going for a long drive. The last thing you want is to have a breakdown any time during your trip.
Map out your route in advance
Don’t depend solely on GPS while driving. Check your route before you leave home and print out the directions or copy them by hand. This gives you an idea of how long your trip will take and lets you identify the best places to stop for gas, food and, if necessary, overnight stays.
Leave an hour early
Always give yourself a cushion when estimating how long it will take to reach your destination, especially if you need to arrive at a specific time.
Make sure everyone has their medicines
If anyone you’re traveling with needs to take prescription medications while away from home, make sure he or she has an adequate supply of his or her medicine before getting into the car. Arriving without needed medication, or running out partway through the trip, can be literally life-threatening.
Lock valuables in your trunk
Don’t give crooks an enticement to break into your car when you go into a restaurant or stay at a hotel. Move everything valuable out of the seats and into the trunk.
You never know what could happen, so keep an emergency kit in your car’s trunk at all times. The kit should include jumper cables, an ice scraper, blankets, a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries and a first aid kit. Also make sure to bring along some bottled water, too.
Paying with credit and debit cards may be more convenient, but you should always have some cash in your pocket. Every restaurant and store doesn’t necessarily accept plastic, and your wallet may become lost or stolen. Cash works everywhere and can tide you over in any emergency.
Make a plan for regrouping if kids become separated
Make and review safety plans with your children. With young kids, emphasize the importance of never talking to strangers. For every child, make sure they know what to do if they get separated from family members, including which phone numbers to call and what meeting spots to head for.
If you get stranded on the side of the road, your cell phone can be a lifesaver. Never get stuck with a dead battery.
Take regular breaks
Don’t drive for more than a few hours at a stretch. Stopping, getting out of the car, walking around and stretching improves blood circulation, mental focus and alertness. In worst-case scenarios, sitting too long can exacerbate back problems and lead to the development of blood clots in your legs.