The elevated dangers of holiday driving are daunting but shouldn’t scare you into staying home or plotting circuitous trips to navigate national hotspots. Elevating your awareness and following sensible advice can help your family return home safely any time of year.
Never Drink and Drive: When drinking is part of the celebration, ensure no one who has imbibed gets behind the wheel. Stay overnight, designate a sober driver, or use rideshares or public transportation. For particularly booze-centric holidays (Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween), consider a party bus, pub crawl, or hotel rooms to eliminate any temptation to drive. Never take chances or listen to an impaired brain that believes it is “fine” – remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving.
Take your Time: Ideally, holidays include days away from work allowing for additional leisure – take advantage of being off the clock by loosening constraints on your schedule. Include extra travel time to accommodate traffic, construction, or bad weather. If you’re running behind, don’t speed or stress out. Instead, take a deep breath, relax, enjoy the ride, and ensure you arrive safely.
Avoid Distractions: Distracted driving is to blame for a recent increase in roadway fatalities following decades of steady decline. Reading text messages, checking social media, eating behind the wheel, or fiddling with in-dash entertainment are modern behaviors that divert attention, often with deadly results. Always keep your eyes/focus on the road and pull over if you’re tired or hungry. There will be plenty of time to post photos and stories once you arrive in one piece.
Be Careful in Winter Weather: If you’re going over the river and through the woods to your grandmother’s house in a cold and snowy climate, take extra care on icy roads and prepare your car for the season. Even if you are accustomed to slippery lanes, be conscious that other drivers may be less familiar (especially holiday travelers). Winterize your vehicle and pack a spare tire and emergency roadside kit.
Optimize Your Route and Schedule: Part of the danger of holiday driving is voluminous traffic; adjusting your departure time to avoid the most congested travel periods can save both time and your life. Taking advantage of modern travel technology (Google Maps, Waze, Accuweather, etc.) allows scouting out bottlenecks, accidents, and threatening weather in real-time and plot your way around them.