The holidays are here! That means everyone’s favorite things: eating, traveling, shopping, visiting family, and keeping up with all of your other traditions.
However, all of these things mean more time on the road for most Americans. In fact, AAA estimates that there are around 50,000,000 drivers in the United States who will travel at least 50 miles from home on Thanksgiving alone.
More time on the road means the chances of an accident go up a little bit. Between 2005-2010, the average number of traffic fatalities during Thanksgiving week was 798, with an average of 748 during all other weeks of the year.
During such a festive time of the year, the last thing that you want to experience is a serious car accident.
That’s why we’ve put together some ideas for how you can stay safe on the roads during the holidays.
Aside from being one of the most festive times of the year, the holidays also bring dramatic weather changes in many parts of the country. That’s why it’s so important that you prepare your car for the worst. Here are a couple of things to do to prepare your car for the holiday season to keep yourself and your family safe:
Service Your Car
The weather changes in the holiday season make it the perfect time to get your car serviced. To make sure that your car is functioning at the level that it’s meant to, there are a few important areas on which to focus:
- Fluids: The fluids in your car are what keep your car running well, and it’s easy to forget about them when everything is running smoothly. To ensure that your car continues running smoothly throughout the holiday season, be sure to check your transmission fluid, oil, brake fluid, and windshield fluid.
- Coolant System: When we experience extremes in temperature, there are fluids in your car that help your engine adjust to those temperatures. As we head into the colder months, it’s important to have sufficient levels of antifreeze. You should also have all of your hoses and your radiator checked.
- Windshield Wipers: Poorly functioning windshield wipers make it difficult to drive in both rain and snow. You will also need them to clean the salt off of your windshield after a snow. If you’ve had your current windshield wipers for over six months, you need to change them before the holiday season.
- Tires: The last thing that you want when you’re driving in snow or wet conditions is a set of bald tires. That’s why you should have them inspected and rotated. Going into the winter, you can never be too careful. Replace them if they seem even close to being too worn to perform well in winter conditions.
Have an Emergency Kit
You never know what’s going to happen while you’re out there on the road. For those traveling long distances to a relative’s house, it’s likely that you’ll pass through more remote areas. If your car breaks down or you’re in a one-car accident, it’s important to have an emergency kit to last you until help arrives. You can include things like:
- Jumper cables
- Ice scraper
- Energy bars
- Waterproof matches
- First-aid kit
Basically, throw in anything that you think you could use in an emergency.
Check the Weather
Although it seems like a simple thing to do, many people leave home unprepared for the weather surrounding their trip. Make sure to check the weather and bring necessary items in case something were to happen unexpectedly (i.e. extra hats, gloves, blankets, a flashlight, etc.)
Safe Driving Tips
Aside from preparing your car for optimal performance, it’s important to assess your own driving habits before heading into the driving-heavy holiday season.
Here are some simple tips to follow this holiday season to ensure that you’re driving as safely as possible:
- Do Not Drink and Drive: Although you shouldn’t ever drink and drive, there tend to be more parties happening during the holiday season, and the weather is a bit colder. Drinking and driving is one of the most dangerous things that you can do in a car, so call and Uber or a friend if it’s even a question.
- Sleep Well: Many people will be making extended trips in their cars this holiday season. If you’re one of those people, ensure that you get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Driving tired is a dangerous thing to do.
- Plan Your Route in Advance (And Check the Weather): Before you leave on your trip, plan the route that you are going to take beforehand. Avoid higher traffic areas if you can, and do your best to avoid traveling on days with heavy rain or snow.
- Relax: Although the holidays (and traffic) can be quite frustrating, the best thing that you can do to combat the stress is to relax as much as possible. You don’t want to be angry on the road or let your emotions control the way that you drive. If you find yourself getting frustrated, simply pull over to the side of the road and take some deep breaths.
Be Safe & Enjoy the Holidays
No matter where you are in the country during this holiday season, it’s likely that you’re going to spend quite some time on the road traveling from house to house for parties and gatherings. With all of those extra people out on the roads, it isn’t always the safest place to be.
However, there are steps that you can take to be safer out there on the road this holiday season. Be safe, and enjoy the holiday season!
If you or anyone that you know experience an injury this holiday season, give the experts at Solnick & Associates a call to see what they can do for you.