Everyone wants to celebrate with friends and family over the holiday season, and there’s nothing wrong with that! It can, however, create higher risk on the road, one that every driver should be aware of. Making a pledge to never drink and drive, avoiding fatigue, and mapping your route ahead of time are all ways to keep the holidays fun. Gathering car insurance quotes that meet your needs better than your current policy will put a little more jingle into your season.
Plan Your Route
If you’re traveling out of town over the holidays, make sure to plan your route ahead of time. Relying on a GPS can be risky, as there could be spots along the way where you lose it. Print out or screenshot the directions so you’re sure to know exactly where to go in case that happens.
Finding alternate routes to busy highways is also a good idea if you’re in an unfamiliar region. You’ll need to tune the radio in to stations that offer road reports to know which highways to avoid.
Watch the Weather
Before you go out for holiday shopping or gatherings catch up on the weather report. It’s a great idea to download a trusted weather app for your area, and turn on the notifications so you’ll know as soon as possible when your region is due for treacherous conditions. Make a reasonable decision based on the severity of the weather and your own driving skills (and ability to see at night) if you should venture out or if you should simply stay at home.
Fatigue can set in pretty easily during the holiday season. Advanced nighttime darkness can cause our bodies to get tired more easily and the hustle and bustle of holiday chaos can make us fatigued. You might be taking allergy medication or just aren’t getting enough overall sleep. Be aware of your wakefulness and if you feel tired, remember that driving while fatigued is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Find a rideshare, stay at home or take a nap before heading out.
Distracted driving is always a mistake, and during the holidays distractions compound already difficult road conditions. The surge of drivers on the road, celebrations with drinking, and snowy/icy roads can put everyone at risk.
- Never text, email, call or check social media on cell phones while driving.
- Avoid eating or drinking while driving
- Keep children occupied and quiet, and pets sufficiently harnessed so they aren’t a distraction
- Keep radio volume low enough so you can hear emergency vehicles, as windows will be closed and the heater will likely be on (both muffle noise).
- Don’t use transit time to put on makeup or comb/brush hair.
- Don’t drive while angry or emotionally unstable.
Keep an Emergency Kit
Nobody likes to think about getting into a car crash, but the risk of it increases over the holidays. Be prepared for the season with a box of tools and items that will make any breakdown or crash easier to manage.
- Jumper cables
- Collapsible shovel
- Snow brush/ice scraper
- Kitty litter for traction
- Blanket and/or extra coat, mittens, hat
- Portable (charged) cell phone battery charger
- Non-perishable snacks
- Paper maps of the area
Get Your Car a Tune-Up
Take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic and have them check that everything is in good working order. They should check the battery voltage, brakes, tires, engine oil, and make sure belts and hoses are attached well and not cracked. They will inspect the engine, replaced any damaged spark plugs and replace bad fuel and air filters. Any faulty electronic components will be addressed at this time, too.
Pull Over When Necessary
Sometimes, blizzard conditions win out and you feel you can’t drive another mile. Be aware of your surroundings and when you can, pull off an exit or into a safe area so you can take a breather before having to resume driving. Lake effect snow can create conditions where blinding snow comes out of nowhere. It helps to know if the area you’re driving in is prone to this condition and if it is, it’s quite possible that the snow will let up quickly or you’ll drive out of it relatively soon.
Everyone looks forward to the holidays! Whether you plan to stay home or around town or are making plans to travel to another state, it’s important to brush up on the strategies you need to get through holiday winter driving safely.