The holidays are such a magical, wonderful time of year. Friends, family, great food and conversation – it’s the time of year when we all come together and celebrate. This year, if you have a long drive for the holidays, we’ve prepared some driving and travel tips to help you do so safely.
Plan for Your Trip
Make a list a week in advance so you have plenty of time to add to it if needed. Planning will reduce stress both during and leading up to your trip. Let’s be honest – driving is stressful and holiday travel is even more stressful. Today’s drivers have a lot to deal with – other drivers, congestion, navigating with GPS and unfamiliar roads, construction zones, even conversations in the car – all can add stress. To combat that, here are a couple simple tips:
- Do your planning and packing at least a week in advance, with your final essentials packed the night before. Don’t forget toiletries, medications, and chargers.
- Load the car the night before the trip to minimize unexpected delays. Give yourself plenty of time the day of the trip to load up and leave
- Packing and loading a car always takes longer than expected, so give yourself plenty of time to do it. This also gives you time to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
- Bring a cooler and plenty of snacks. Fresh fruit and healthy nuts are great and easy snacks for a road trip.
Complete Vehicle Maintenance
Be sure to have your vehicle inspected and any maintenance is completed 1-2 weeks before a big trip. Here are some important things to check:
- Oil change
- Balance and rotate tires
- Have the alignment checked
- Top off any fluids
- Test your lights – both headlights and signal lights.
- You should also make sure your side mirrors are adjusted properly (adjust them until you can’t see your vehicle in them)
- Give your windshield some TLC. Use a microfiber cloth and some isopropyl alcohol to clean the inside of the windshield and use a Rain-X based cleaner on the outside to ensure proper water beading if it rains.
Drive Proactive & Put Safety First
A three-year study of holiday travel-related crashes by AutoInsurance.org found Thanksgiving to be the 8th deadliest holiday with 1,215 fatal crashes in three years for an average of 405 a year. But there are lots of ways to keep safe.
- Leave ample following distance (4 seconds in good weather, 8 seconds or more in wet/icy conditions)
- Follow the speed limit – even when others don’t!
- Always look ahead but stay aware of vehicles around you
- If the road is wet/icy, don’t use cruise control
- Wear a seat belt – 42% of crashes involve people not wearing seatbelts and they have more severe or fatal injuries.
- Give semis and bigger vehicles plenty of room. Pass quickly and don’t linger beside a semi as they may need to change lanes quickly. When passing, don’t get in front of a semi until you can see the entire cab in your rear-view mirror
- Limit distractions – if you have a companion, let him or her change the music, help with navigation, and give you snacks or drinks when you need them
Don’t force yourself to drive nonstop on a long trip to avoid driver fatigue and stress. Everyone’s tolerances are different, so know your own limits.
- Rule of thumb – take a break every 2 hours or 120 miles, whichever comes first. This way, if you’re involved in stressful situations like heavy congestion and construction zones that require more attention, you give your mind and body a break.
- If you find yourself missing important cues like speed limit changes or have experienced a near accident, it’s a good time to take a break.
- If you follow the 2 hour/120-mile guideline, in 8 hours of driving you’ll only take four breaks and add an hour to your travel time.
- If you’re traveling at night or in stressful conditions, plan to stop a little more often.
- If you have children and pets, you can expect to need frequent bathroom and food breaks for them as well.
- When you take your breaks, avoid fast food and heavy meals or snacks that will make you sleepy.
- Share the drive, if you can, by switching drivers every two hours
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
If, heaven forbid, you are involved in a crash, know what steps to take:
- Call police and get a crash report, even if the crash is minor. This is critical documentation proving the crash happened and establishing the facts of the crash.
- Take pictures of your vehicle, the other vehicles involved, and of the scene (from a short distance) with all vehicles in view. Take video as well if you can.
- Avoid talking to anyone other than the police officer except to check and make sure they don’t need medical care.
- Seek medical treatment immediately if seriously injured or within 24 hours if you experience any pain or soreness. Don’t wait! Just because you can’t see the source of your pain, doesn’t mean you’re not injured. Spinal injuries can take weeks or months to fully develop symptoms, and concussions can too. These symptoms can seem like they might go away with time but won’t. Listen to what your body is telling you and seek medical treatment. Only a doctor can really tell you what’s wrong. Remember, emergency rooms are for critical life-threatening injuries. Use an urgent care center if not critically injured.
- Contact an attorney for legal representation. Everything you do after a crash is critical, and a good legal team will walk you through the process, avoiding delays and costly mistakes that could ruin your claim and reduce the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Avoid recorded statements to your insurance company without a lawyer’s representation. It’s a good rule of thumb to have legal representation within 24 hours of a crash if possible so the legal team can get to work and protect you. A lawyer is an invaluable, critical resource to help you get your life back after a crash. Not at fault? Contact us
- Notify your insurance company within 24 – 72 hours after the crash. Focus on your wellbeing first and obtaining legal representation.
- Get your vehicle appraised or repaired and continue medical treatment.
We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season! www.wyattlawfirm.com
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