Stuff You Should Do When Driving During the Holidays

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About to take a cross-country road trip to be with your family over Christmas or New Years? Preparation for your road trip might have you mainly thinking about the perfect road trip playlist. Or the foodie stops you can make along the way. But there are a couple other things you should be aware of regarding holiday driving that will make your trip that much safer.

Remember, it’s not just you on the roads…

A DUI attorney has one of their busiest seasons right after the holiday break. Why? Statistics show that traffic accidents reach a peak over various holiday weekends. One of the primary causes for traffic accidents as a whole? The NHSTA reports that driving while under the influence is responsible for a third of all car crash deaths in the US. They report that in 2016, over 10,000 people died due to DUI-related accidents.
Even if you are committed to being a responsible driver, it’s not just you out on the roads. So it pays to be extra careful and avoid driving on nights when statistics show accidents are at their peak. Those nights include from Christmas Eve through to the day after New Years. While staying off the roads on certain nights might seem a dramatic solution, it is also by far the one that will keep you the safest.

Have a contingency plan

Do you know who to call if you have a blow out on the road? Can you change the tire yourself? Do you have a spare tire in your vehicle? Try to think of worst-case scenarios and come up with a basic plan of how you will cope. Put together an emergency kit that contains everything you need in case you are stranded for a couple of hours.

The experts at DMV suggest carrying the following in your trunk:

  • Jumper cables
  • Road flares
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Tarp
  • Drinking water and energy bars
  • Duct tape
  • Rags
  • A first aid kit containing band-aids, aspirin, gauze, tweezers, hand sanitizer, etc.

 

This list can be further tailored depending on the climate.

Map out your road trip

Knowing the roads you will take and the distances between your various stops along the way is what experienced travelers do. Listen to traffic forecasts and avoid congested roads. Weather forecasts are also important to keep track of, as you do not want to be caught in the middle of nasty weather. Downloading the right travel app can make it that much easier to map out your road trip, find safe pit stops, and avoid unpleasant situations.

Don’t drive while sleepy

According to the CDC, driving while sleepy is a growing problem in the US. The results are often tragic. A growing body of research has shown that being sleep deprived impairs a person’s motor skills and cognitive ability. What does this mean for drivers on the road? If you are sleepy at the wheel, your reaction time will be poor and your ability to make good decisions will be impaired.

Unexpectedly, this poses a problem during the holidays. Instead of getting extra rest during the holidays, we are prone to staying up due to late-night parties and events. Which often leads to sleep lost right before a long road trip home. No one wants to already be tired and worn out even before the long road trip home begins. Yet, we often make choices that cause this situation to happen.

What can we do to prevent sleepiness while driving? Try to schedule your return trip a day later than you had originally planned, so you can have a day to rest up before you drive out.

Don’t have that extra day to spare? Learn to watch for signs that you are getting drowsy behind the wheel, and then take immediate action. Pull over to the side of the road whenever you begin to feel sleepy. Take frequent cat naps throughout your trip back. A nap of even 10 to 20 minutes can give your brain and body the boost it needs to keep going for another hour or two. And, most importantly, keep you safe while on the road.

Tune-up before you hit the road

When was the last time you gave your car a tune-up? Or brought to a car garage for a maintenance check? If you can’t remember, then your vehicle is due for a checkup. Get your tires checked and your oil changed. And have them make sure your engine is running as it should. This is one of the basic keys to safe driving.