The holiday season is fast approaching. It’s estimated that more than 40 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.
While we look forward to spending time with family and friends, travel can turn our long holiday weekend into a nightmare. If you plan to hit the open road this year, here are some tips to help you safely get to your destination.
1. Take off work early. Wednesday and Sunday are the busiest days to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. If you have a few extra vacation days, consider starting your Thanksgiving travel on Monday or Tuesday. Visiting family and friends from Tuesday to Saturday can help prevent you from being stuck in holiday travel. You may even want to extend your stay. Travel begins to level out the Monday after Thanksgiving.
2. Take the long way home. If you do have to travel during the peak times, consider taking alternative routes. While setting the cruise and rolling down the interstate can seem like the way to go, why not take the country roads? While there may be more twists and turns, the back way home is usually more scenic and may prevent you from getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
3. Make sure you have your charging cords. While more and more cars are manufactured with touch screens, many of us still don’t have this feature. So make sure you have charging cords for your smartphone or GPS. You should even consider bringing a paper map. This way if the route you’re traveling is closed due to a traffic accident, you have tools to help you find an alternative route.
4. Take plenty of snacks and water. If you do get delayed due to a traffic accident or road construction, it’s good idea to have distractions on hand for you and your occupants. If your children are like mine, they’re always hungry. A full stomach equals a happy child which equals a more enjoyable road trip.
5. Don’t forget your coins or interstate pass. If you travel on interstates with toll booths, make sure you have enough change. If you have an electronic pass, check your account balance before you leave home. While cruising through automatic tolling is a real time saver, getting notices in the mail for unpaid tolls is not a fun way to follow up your holiday.
6. Take your car in for a check up. If you plan to drive several hundred miles, it may be worthwhile to have your car inspected by your local mechanic. Items to inspect include your tires, brakes, car battery, and windshield wipers. Making sure your car is in good working order can prevent an unexpected break down and make your trip more enjoyable.
7. Get plenty of rest. If you’re taking a long road trip, get plenty of rest before you leave, and take plenty of breaks while traveling. Periodically stretching your legs and getting fresh air is beneficial. Proper rest and breaks can help you stay alert. Remember the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles?
8. Avoid distracted driving. You should always be attentive and alert when driving. Consider pulling off the road to eat, make a phone call, or to send a text message. If you arrive at grandmother’s house and you don’t remember how, that’s a pretty good indicator you drove distracted.
9. Keep a safe following distance. If you drive during the day or in good weather conditions, it’s best to leave a three-second gap between you and the car in front of you. If you’re driving in extreme weather conditions, like heavy rain or snow, double the following distance to six seconds. If you stay back, you give yourself an escape route if something goes wrong in front of you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass or pull over.
10. Remain calm. You can experience some stressful situations while driving so take some deep breaths and remain calm. Don’t drive with road rage. This could cause you do something unsafe, and put you and your family in harm’s way.
Driving is a privilege! Please do what you can to keep yourself and others safe this holiday season.
Source: West Bend