Safety Tips for Washington Drivers During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for road accidents and is a time when you should take extra care.

The holiday season begins this week with Thanksgiving and with it, the most dangerous driving season of the year. Frantic travelers and harried shoppers make the roadways much more crowded and driving difficult for all of us. Add to this the propensity for people to enjoy wine, beer or a mixed drink at gatherings before getting back on the road and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Many people travel to spend time with family and friends over Thanksgiving week and the following weekend. According to AAA, roughly 44 million Americans will hit the roadways. 90% of travelers will go by car, most will drive at least 50 miles to get to their destination and approximately 500 drivers will die on the busy roads over the long holiday weekend.

Here are 5 critical safety tips to keep you safe on the roads and help you avoid car accidents:

#1 Prepare Your Vehicle

A few days in advance of your trip, check your vehicle over. Top off fluids, check your wiper blades, check your tire inflation and tread and check all your exterior lights. If snow or ice is expected, consider putting chains on your tires. Make sure your car has safety items such as road flares, reflective triangles, jumper cables, flashlight, water snacks, warm spare clothes and a blanket in case you end up stranded.

#2 Plan Your Trip

So many of us rely on GPS navigators on our phones or vehicles, but it never hurts to have a hard copy back-up of directions to your destination. This is extra important if you are going somewhere unfamiliar or that you travel to infrequently. And because traffic accidents can cause major back-ups, knowing an alternate route can save you a lot of heartache as well.

#3 Keep Your Distance

Because there are an increased number of intoxicated, distracted and stressed drivers on the roadways during the holidays, it’s important that you be doubly vigilant. To protect yourself and your loved ones traveling with you, leave larger gaps between your vehicle and those in front of you. Take extra caution when turning, passing and at intersections. Keep your speed close to the limit or appropriate for travel conditions and if the weather is bad, allow yourself more time to get where you’re going.

#4 Don’t Indulge in Distractions

Distracted driving is responsible for a great number of car accidents even without the added volume of holiday drivers on the roads. Texting, chatting on the phone or playing with your MP3 player can take your mind off the road and it only takes a split-second of inattention to cause a tragic accident. If you need to make or take a call or send a text, pull off at a rest stop or exit the roadway. Pulling off on the shoulder is dangerous, so avoid this maneuver!

#5 Check the Weather Conditions

Check the forecast for your drive and destination the day before and a few hours prior to departure so you can be prepared. If there is rain or snow, leave early so you have time to deal with the fallout and won’t have to rush. Dress appropriately for the weather in case you have an accident or are stranded. If you were planning on making a round-trip and the weather looks dicey, consider booking a hotel room so you can travel during daylight hours rather than at night.

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