Tips for Driving Safely Over the Holidays
There’s no place like home for the holidays. Driving home, however, can be very dangerous, with poor weather, heavy traffic, and drunk drivers increasing your risk of being involved in an accident. We offer some tips to help keep you safe on the roads.
However, driving home for the holidays is another matter entirely. Poor weather conditions, drunk drivers, and heavy traffic increase the risk of being involved in an accident. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, the holiday season following Halloween is one of the most likely times for impaired driving incidents.
To make sure you drive home safely, keep the following tips in mind.
Prepare for the Trip
It doesn't matter if you're traveling across the country or across town, you'll want to prepare your car and yourself for the trip. By preparing in advance, you'll know what actions you need to take to avoid potential problems and pitfalls along the way.
Make Sure Your Car can Handle the Trip
Nothing puts a damper on a vacation quite like car troubles. Before you pack up your clothes, take some time in the few weeks before your trip to ensure your car can go the distance.
- Check the battery for a strong charge.
- Inspect your tires for tears, bulges, tread, and pressure.
- Examine brake pads to make sure they aren't worn or need replacing.
- Stock your car with an emergency kit. Include a first-aid kit, emergency blanket, and basic tools.
- Fill fluid levels for oil, wiper fluid, coolant, and transmission.
- Replace any broken headlights or taillights.
If you spot any problems, schedule an appointment with your mechanic to address these issues well in advance of your holiday.
Make Sure You Can Handle the Trip
Even if your car is ready to go, you might not be. Distracted, impaired, and fatigued driving all contribute to poor driving decisions. Before your trip, make sure you are:
- Well-rested: Aim to sleep at least 8 hours before your trip, and try to create a regular sleeping schedule in the days leading up to your trip.
- Focused: Don't text or surf the internet while you drive. Finish all important tasks and assignments before you ever turn the key in the ignition.
- Relaxed: Financial troubles on your mind? Worried about meeting all the demands on your time? Write them down and let them be. Take a deep breath and save your concerns for after your trip.
- Sober: Drunk-driving deaths spike over the holidays. Don't spend the night before your drive drinking with your friends. If you do drink, you'll want to assign someone else to be the designated driver.
Not sure you can handle the trip on your own? Consider an alternate mode of transportation, such as a train or plane, or ask a friend or family member to accompany you on your journey. When you get tired or bored, you can switch places with your passenger to shake things up.
Drive Safely to Your Destination
Now that you're prepped and ready to go, it's time to hit the open road. As you drive home, you'll want to be extra alert about the drivers around you and the road conditions you may face.
Be Cautious Around Other Drivers
Just because you're sober doesn't mean other drivers are. Be on the lookout for distracted or impaired drivers and give them plenty of room on the road. Slow down, let other drivers pass, or change lanes as needed to ensure you have plenty of stopping space in case of an accident.
Adjust Your Route as Necessary
With so many people in a hurry to get home, traffic is likely to get messy along the way. Additionally, poor weather conditions may turn an otherwise safe road into a driving hazard. To save you time and hassle, be prepared to take an alternate route. Map out possible roads and exits that will get you to your destination safely and in a timely manner.
As you drive, listen to news and weather updates so you can anticipate and avoid potential problems before they affect you directly.
Take Your Time
While you may be excited to get home in time for your traditional family dinner, it's better to slow down and take your time. Leave a little early for your trip so you won't feel rushed along the way. The extra time will also give you some cushion should an emergency arise and you have to take an alternate route home.
Also, be sure to observe all speed limits and rules of the road. If road conditions are poor, slow down to ensure the safety of you, your passengers, your car, and the drivers around you. But don't drive so slow that you become a hazard!
Use these tips as you drive home for the holidays. They'll help ensure your trip is as safe as possible. Once you're home safely, enjoy your holiday – you've earned it!