Congested traffic, pressured drivers and bad weather all contribute to a wintery mix of holiday driving hazards which make this one of the riskiest times of year to be on the road. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of things you can do to help keep you and your passengers safe, and enjoy the season incident free.
Plan your route and check traffic and weather conditions to allow enough time to comfortably reach your destination – especially if you’re setting off on a road trip. You may want to leave early or late to avoid extended rush hours.
The likes of shopping, visiting friends and family, and parties can make this a busy period, so make sure you get adequate rest before traveling to avoid drowsy and fatigued driving. Take regular breaks on long trips and try to share time behind the wheel.
Even saintly drivers may start to feel the pressure of the holidays, but relax, because frustration can result in poor decisions and dangerous situations. Planning your trip, resisting the temptation to speed, and showing goodwill to fellow motorists by driving considerately will lower these risks.
Don’t drive impaired
The advice is simple: don’t drink and drive. Hundreds of lives are lost to drunk drivers over the holiday season, according to the NHTSA, so if you’re going to celebrate with a drink or two, designate a sober driver or call for a ride. The NHTSA’s SafeRide app allows you to identify your location and call a taxi or friend to pick you up.
Don’t drive distracted
Driving requires your full attention and any non-driving activity, including texting and talking on the phone, increases the risk of crashing, says NHTSA. If you need to send a holiday message, check a store’s hours or let someone know where you are, find a safe place to stop and pull over.
Do drive defensively
You can help protect yourself against dangers posed by other motorists and poor weather by practicing defensive driving. Planning for the unexpected, being prepared to react quickly, keeping a safe speed and not responding to aggressive drivers, for example, will give you more control.
Prepare your vehicle
Make sure your car is ready to tackle the season with you. Prep it for winter by taking steps such as checking the tires, using a winter washer fluid and replacing worn wiper blades. It’s also smart to pack emergency supplies, like jumper cables, a flashlight and shovel, in case you get stuck or break down.
Secure your vehicle, too
It’s easy to forget to lock the car with your arms full of shopping on a round of errands. Keep your vehicle secure and purchases and valuables in the trunk when parked.
Whatever your plans, the holidays present their own set of driving hazards, so it makes sense to drive accordingly. Following these tips will help you safely on your way.