The holiday season is more than good food and family time. For many, getting to that good food and family means travel. Depending on the area of the country, there can be a number challenges that make safe driving difficult. During this time of year, weather conditions, limited daylight and driving in unfamiliar areas all pose risks to travelers on the road. But a little insight can go a long way. Here are six ways you can drive safely and smartly this holiday season.
Before you start your trip, make sure your vehicle is in good shape for travel. This is especially important for winter driving conditions. Check the weather before heading out to ensure the roads are safe to drive on. When temperatures drop significantly… well, you know what happens. Most roads freeze, making driving conditions are far from safe. Statistics show that during icy road conditions, there are 1,836 deaths, 136,309 injuries and 536,731 crashes annually. Even more alarming? The average icy road fatality count is 3.6 times the total deaths from all other weather hazards combined. If you’ve got a long drive ahead, be sure to give yourself plenty of extra time for the trip and be sure to increase your following distance. In inclement weather, it is imperative to stay alert, mind your speed, drive defensively and avoid distractions.
If you have winter tires or chains, you might not have as much to worry about. For those who don’t, you’re going to want more than spark plugs in your trunk. No one loves the thought of sliding off an icy/snowy road, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready for it. If you have the room in your trunk, think about stashing a few blankets, a shovel and even some non-clumping cat litter. Why all these?
First, you don’t know what kind of service you’ll have or how long you’ll be stuck. Blankets will help you retain heat through the cold. You also don’t want to be moving snow from around your tires with your windshield scraper. And digging your car out is only one part of the battle. Your tires will need traction, and cat litter will help with that.
Make sure you’re well-rested before a long drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatalities resulting from drowsy driving rose 8.2 percent in 2021. Get home safely this holiday season. Plan your trip with another person who is able to drive if you can, and take regular breaks to avoid drowsy driving.
Give yourself plenty of time and distance to react to the traffic around you. An Automotive Fleet Magazine article notes that for every one percent increase in speed, a driver’s chance of an accident increases by two percent, the chance of serious injury increases by three percent, and the chance of a fatality increases by about four percent.
Increased holiday traffic and winter road conditions can be frustrating. Everyone would rather be at their destination than on the roads. Some drivers forget the importance of their own safety and the safety of others. Put the safety of everyone in your car first by letting impatient and aggressive drivers pass you or go through the intersection ahead of you so that you control the situation.
If you plan to drink, don’t plan to drive. NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign has set out to end drunk driving through cutting-edge technology. There’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel while under the influence. Using a designated driver or a ride-share service when you have a couple of holiday refreshments is always the safest choice.
According to Distraction.gov, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the distance of an entire football field. Driving requires your full attention. When you’re able to do so safely, pull off to the side of the road or find the nearest rest stop when you have to use your cell phone.
Whether you do or don’t believe there’s no place like home for the holidays, according to a recent survey, over 67 percent of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas or both. No matter how you slice the pie, traveling is inevitable. Accidents may go hand in hand with poor weather conditions and exhaustion, but that doesn’t have to ruin your plans. We’re focused on making work life better for mobile workers. And we care about their safety during this time of year. That’s why it’s important for everyone to follow these driving tips to stay safe on the roads and have a wonderful holiday.