Millions of Americans take the phrase “there’s no place like home for the holidays” literally. The mass migration of drivers to see friends and family near and far can bring anticipation and excitement. In more times than not, the trek and the traffic can be stressful and anything but peaceful. If you or your family is planning on driving home during the holidays, here are some safe driving tips that will make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.
- Pack accordingly. Besides your typical trip essentials, be sure to pack your cell phone cords, a paper map (yes, they still do exist), extra change for toll roads, and plenty of water and snacks (especially if you have kids in tow.)
- Make sure the car is ready to go. While breaking down along the Interstate in pouring rain may make for a funny, memorable story in the future, it can easily take away the joy and relaxation of the holidays in the moment. Avoid these unexpected breakdowns by having a mechanic look over the tires, breaks, engine and windshield wipers before the trip.
- Avoid peak travel times. The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) and the Sunday following Thanksgiving, for instance are the busiest travel days. To avoid traffic, consider taking a couple extra vacation days and leave on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving instead and coming back on the Monday following Thanksgiving.
- Get plenty of rest. Hours on the road may not seem like a hard, strenuous activity, but it requires constant attention and alertness. You’re more likely to have an incident when you’re deprived of sleep and your judgment is impaired. If you’re driving long distances, regularly stop to stretch your legs and get fresh air to help you stay awake.
- Remain calm. It’s easier to say than to be calm during a holiday traffic jam, but taking deep breaths and resisting the urge to drive like a mad-man will make the drive more relaxing and enjoyable. It’s also easier to stay calm when you don’t overbook your holiday schedule and feel pressured to get everywhere as fast as you can.
- Avoid distracted driving. Talking on the phone and texting are quickly becoming one of the biggest causes of traffic incidents. Driving, especially long distances and in unfamiliar areas require careful, undivided attention always. If you need to make a phone call, send a text, look something up on the Internet or simply eat, pull off the road.
- Keep a safe following distance. If you’re lucky enough to travel in the day and in good weather, a 3 second gap between your car and the one in front of it is recommended. In rain or snow, this three second following distance should be at least doubled. If someone is tailgating you, pull over and let them pass.
- Take an alternate way home. Instead of going home the same old boring way, why not switch it up a little? Try side roads instead of the Interstate. A change of scenery can be relaxing and prettier to look at. You may even get around traffic.
- Avoid driving impaired. Alcohol is a hallmark of holiday parties, dinners and celebrations. Drinking while intoxicated slows your reaction time and impairs your judgement. It can also lead to fatigue while driving. Every year, impaired drivers are responsible for fatal auto accidents. If you do drink, drink in moderation or have a designated driver.
Don’t let your anxiety of driving dampen the excitement of spending time with friends and family this holiday season. If you would like to improve your overall skills behind the wheel, contact 911 Driving School today.