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5 tips for a safe holiday road trip

Posted at 6:57 AM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2018-11-22 09:07:19-05

'Tis the season to be jolly, and what’s jollier than a holiday family road trip?

The six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's are some of the busiest travel days of the year. In 2016, more than 93 million people took a road trip during the holiday season, according to the AAA Travel Forecast. With so many people driving, it’s important to plan ahead for a safe holiday road trip.

Here are some tips to help you prepare.

Perform a basic car safety check

Preparing your car can save you time and stress, prevent roadside breakdowns and even prevent accidents. In the week before your departure date, take your car in for routine maintenance and inspection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends doing the following:

  • Check battery
  • Change oil
  • Rotate tires
  • Check tire pressure
  • Replace wiper blades, if necessary
  • Ensure all lights are working properly
  • Fix air conditioning or heat (depending on your destination)

In addition to performing a basic safety check, pack your car ahead of time. Place all suitcases and travel items in the car, and strap them down or secure them. When packing your car, make sure every passenger has a place to sit with a seat belt. Millions of people do not wear seat belts, even though it is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries related to car crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Listen to the road

When driving, minimize distractions and sounds in the car. Turn off the radio, put your cellphone down and don't be afraid to pause conversations while driving. This allows you to listen to what's going on inside and outside your car. If something seems amiss, stop the car, pull over safely and inspect the problem before driving on.

Stock your car with emergency items

After you’ve inspected your car and packed your luggage, stock up with emergency essentials. Should you experience car troubles, traffic jams or an accident, you’ll want to have some important items on hand:

  • Water
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Tools to change a tire
  • Cellphone and charger
  • Ice scraper (for travel to snowy destinations)
  • Blankets



Plan your route

Because the holidays see an increase of people on the road, plan your route ahead of time to make maximum time and distance while staying safe. Before you start, map out your destination and include an alternate route in case you need to adjust course. To optimize your road trip, consider planning which gas stations you’ll refill your tank at, where you’ll eat lunch or dinner and when you’ll stop for bathroom breaks.

Also, allow the driver to take breaks to rest and rejuvenate. If possible, designate multiple drivers throughout the course of the road trip and schedule driving shifts so no one drives drowsy.

Turn on the lights

Being seen is one of the most important driving safety tips. You may be a cautious and alert driver, but you can't always trust others who are on the road. Turn your lights on in the early morning and evening hours, as well as at night.

While these tips can help prevent problems, accidents still happen. Even the most prepared drivers experience car problems or accidents during holiday travel and may need help. When that happens, it’s important to know a trusted personal injury attorney and have that information on hand. Ed Bernstein & Associates has 40 years of experience and can be contacted at 702-240-0000 or