11 Tips for Safe Travels this Holiday Season
Although the holidays are supposed to be a time for love, joy, family, and friends, holiday road trips bring with them all sorts of risks and dangers.
Whether your destination is just 30 minutes away or you’re tackling a 16-hour road trip, the rush of holiday traffic (and potentially dangerous weather) increases your likelihood of getting in a car accident.
At Mulligan Attorneys, we work too frequently with people who’ve been in unfortunate accidents during the busy holiday season. We want everyone to celebrate safely, so we’ve put together a list of tips for safe holiday travels.
1. Plan your route beforehand.
Before you leave, sit down with your phone GPS to determine the route you’ll take and where you will stop to load up on gas, grab a bite to eat, and get some rest. Check the traffic reports and weather forecast and leave early — during the holidays, you should always expect heavy traffic.
Never rely solely on GPS, especially if you’re traveling through rural areas. Bring a good old-fashioned paper map as a backup.
2. Make sure your car is ready.
Been a while since your car has had a checkup? Now is the perfect time to take your vehicle by the shop.
Before you hit the road, check your wiper blades, wiper fluid, and tire pressure. As temperatures drop, wiper fluid freezes and tires deflate. Be sure to clean your external cameras, sensors, and mirrors. Start your trip with a full tank of gas, and try to keep the tank at least half full to prevent your gas lines from freezing.
3. Pack for emergencies.
Car troubles, inclement weather, getting lost, fender benders — you never know what you’ll encounter on the road.
Here’s a list of a few essentials you’ll want to bring along:
- Plenty of water and healthy snacks (like unsalted nuts and dried fruit)
- Blankets and warm clothing
- Flash lights & batteries
- Jumper cables
- Spare tire & jack
- Reflective vest & triangles
- Basic tool kit
- First-aid kit
- Ice scraper, snowbrush, & shovel
- Duct tape
- Car charging cable
- Old-fashioned map
- Extra cash
4. Know the rules of the road.
Pay close attention to traffic stops, winding roads, and changes to the speed limit. Driving in unfamiliar areas means you don’t always know the rules, so pay special attention to road signs and the tendencies of other drivers.
If you’re driving through multiple states, brush up on the road rules ahead of time. What does the state law say about signaling lane changes, taking a right turn on red, passing other vehicles, and lane sharing and splitting?
5. Try to travel with a buddy.
It’s smart to recruit a travel buddy, especially if you’re driving a long distance. A friend can help you navigate foreign roads, check oncoming traffic and weather forecasts, manage the radio or playlist, keep you alert, and even take the wheel if you need a break.
6. Avoid any distractions.
Try to limit your distractions as much as possible. Ask someone else in the car to be your navigator, and prearrange your road trip playlist so you’re not messing with your phone or vehicle infotainment system while your eyes should be on the road.
If you have kiddos, make sure they are well-equipped with entertainment so you don’t need to worry about them so much from behind the wheel.
And we know how tempting it can be to buy fast food and eat on the road. But taking the time to eat your grub before trying to navigate new highways can mean the difference between safe driving and a fender bender.
7. Don’t push yourself too hard.
To protect yourself, your family, and everyone else on the road, you need to be at your peak performance when you drive.
When you’re tired, don’t drive.
When you’re drunk, don’t drive.
When you’re not feeling well, don’t drive.
Get a good night’s sleep before you head out, drink plenty of water, and pack high-energy snacks, like unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and hard candy.
If you start to feel tired, don’t push through! Pull over and take a nap in a rest area or pass off the driving baton to your travel buddy. It truly is the best way to keep yourself — not to mention your fellow travelers — safe.
8. Be attentive to other drivers (and deer).
With the influx of holiday traffic, you’ll likely come across some pretty wild — and potentially aggressive — drivers during your trip. To avoid an accident, keep your eyes peeled, drive defensively, and stay calm.
And, remember, highway deer crossings are pretty common this time of year. The best way to avoid hitting a deer is to reduce your speed and stay extra alert when you see a deer-crossing sign.
9. Keep your phone(s) charged.
Let’s be honest. You probably rely heavily on your smartphone for navigation while traveling long distances. And if your car breaks down, you’ll want your phone to have as much charge as possible so you can call emerging roadside services and/or loved ones for help.
10. Never drink and drive.
The statistics are astonishing — did you know two-thirds of U.S. citizens will be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime?
Driving while you’re intoxicated is never worth the risk of harming yourself or others on the road. To avoid a DWI charge or a potentially fatal car accident, you should make a realistic plan before you go out drinking over the holidays. Plus, there are plenty of things you can do instead of driving drunk.
If you find yourself in need of a DWI attorney or have questions about your rights, reach out to the team at Mulligan Attorneys. We can help you through the process by explaining your options and helping you decide how best to proceed.
11. Enjoy the journey!
Yes, the holiday season can be stressful. And driving for hours is probably not the most fun part of your holiday trip. However, the journey is just as important as the destination. From scenic views to your favorite road trip traditions, try to look for small moments of joy.
The Mulligan Attorneys team wishes you safe, enjoyable travels this holiday season. From our family to yours: Happy Holidays!
Have questions about road rules? In need of a DWI, personal injury, or traffic lawyer? Click here to get in touch with us, or give us a call at 910-707-0926 to schedule a free consultation.