Special Feature

Holiday Driving Safety Tips

Line of cars driving on a snowy road

With the holiday season in full swing, millions of Americans are preparing to travel to visit friends and family, and the majority of holiday travelers will be driving. Whether you are heading over the river and through the woods or just couple of miles away, here are a few safety tips to take with you on the road:

  • Get your vehicle road-ready: Check your vehicle fluid levels, battery, tire pressure and condition, and fill up your gas tank before starting your trip.

  • Plan your route: Plan your driving route ahead of departing. Check for road construction and road closures along the way in case you need to reroute. Be sure to check local weather reports for both your current location and your destination so that you know what kind of weather conditions you will be driving through. If the weather is severe, consider postponing or canceling your travel plans.

  • Brush up on your winter driving skills: Extreme winter weather conditions such as snow and sleet can make for low visibility and icy roadways. Be sure to reduce your speed, allow for longer stopping distances, and leave plenty of space between your vehicle and others on the road. Avoid skids when accelerating by applying the gas slowly, and never use cruise control in wintery conditions. When preparing to stop, be sure to apply the brakes slowly.

  • Buckle up: Wearing a seatbelt is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay safe on the road. Remind everyone else in the vehicle to buckle their seatbelts as well.

  • Prepare for emergencies: Be prepared for an unexpected emergency, such as a car accident, breakdown, flat tire, or medical issue by keeping a stash of emergency supplies in your vehicle. Supplies should include a flashlight, blanket, extra gloves and hats, first-aid kit, basic hand tools, phone charger, snacks, and bottled water. It is also a good idea to keep a small or collapsible shovel and a small bucket of sand or cat litter in the trunk of your vehicle in case you find yourself stuck in deep snow.

  • Don’t drink and drive: If you are going to be driving this holiday season, be sure to avoid the spiked eggnog. Never risk the safety of family, friends, or others on the road by drinking and driving.

  • Stay focused on the road: Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. Help yourself stay focused on the road at all times by assigning a navigator to handle any GPS device or road map, refraining from talking on the phone or texting while driving, and reminding passengers to keep their voices down. Take a short break every so often to revive your energy and focus, and split up driving responsibilities with others in the vehicle if possible.

  • Drive defensively: Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing and keep an eye out for drivers who may be operating their vehicle erratically due to distraction or the influence of alcohol. Give yourself plenty of space between other cars on the road and avoid sudden stops.

  • Go slow and be patient: Accelerating, decelerating, stopping, turning, and merging all take a bit longer on snow- and ice-covered roads. Pad extra driving time into your travel and never speed to make up lost time. It may sound simple, but having a little extra patience while out on the road goes a long way in ensuring that you arrive safely at your destination.