If you’re planning a Thanksgiving road trip, you’ll have plenty of company.
The fall and winter holidays are the busiest times to travel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is by car.
With all those vehicles on the road, it’s important to drive carefully, so everyone can make it to their destinations and back home safely. With that in mind, follow these five tips for a safe holiday road trip.
Distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of car accidents in the United States, according to drivers.com.
“Talking on the phone, texting, eating, reading, grooming, and talking are just some of the ways drivers get distracted behind the wheel,” Michael Pines writes.
To combat this problem, get rid of the most obvious distraction — your phone. If driving alone, stick your phone in your luggage or the back seat, so you have to pull over to use it. If driving with others, give your phone to a passenger who can check and respond to text messages or make phone calls, if necessary.
Know your route
Before heading out, familiarize yourself with the directions. Knowing your route will help in case of GPS technological problems or if weather or traffic conditions force a detour. In fact, check the weather ahead of time, so you have an idea of what to expect. If using your phone’s GPS, buy a dashboard mount, so you can stay hands-free. With the phone in front of you, put it in airplane mode, or promise yourself out loud to not check it without first pulling off the road.
Plan for the unexpected
Make allowances for potential problems by giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Doing so will help you stay calm in traffic jams or stormy weather without worrying about being late. Pack an emergency kit that includes a blanket, a first aid kit, roadside flares, granola bars and other necessities. Get a full night’s sleep the night before to help you make smart decisions on the road and react well in dangerous situations. Plan ahead for how you’ll deal with frustration about other drivers by, for example, taking deep breaths when your anger spikes.
Prepare your vehicle
Are you driving somewhere snowy? If so, investing in winter tires will make the drive easier and could save your life.
"With top-quality winter tires you're no longer at the mercy of the weather or drivers around you," Tire Rack product information specialist Woody Rogers said on edmunds.com. “Further, quality winter tires give up almost nothing to original equipment all-season tires in emergency performance on dry roads or in the rain.”
Another way to prepare is to keep your gas tank full throughout the trip, making sure to fill up before long stretches of road with no gas stations.
Make it fun
Keeping the drive entertaining will help you stay sharp. On your own, you can listen to music, podcasts and recorded books. When traveling with other people, you can chat and play car games. Either way, plan stops along the way, with the help of online reviews or billboards, so you have something to look forward to every few hours. That could include local food trucks or street vendors, unique art installations and other compelling sights. After each stop, if you have multiple drivers in the car, switch seats so everyone stays fresh.
Do your best to stay safe on the road. However, no matter how much you prepare, accidents can happen, and victims need an attorney they can trust. The attorneys at Ed Bernstein & Associates have more than 40 years of experience in personal injury law and understand its finer nuances.
Visit edbernstein.com or call (702) 240-0000 to find out how to get started on the road to recovery.