Thanksgiving Driving Tips
In 2015, AAA predicted that nearly 47 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving - this is a 0.6 percent increase over the previous year and marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving holiday travel. Approximately 90% of these travelers will be driving their personal vehicles to their destinations - that's a lot of vehicles on the road.
1. Check your vehicle. AAA expected to rescue more than 360,000 motorists for Thanksgiving 2015, primarily for dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts - and that number is expected to grow this year. It's important to get your vehicle checked out before any trip, so bring it to your local CJ's Tire & Automotive, and we will give it a Multi Point Inspection. We'll check your fluid levels, belts/hoses, battery, brakes, tire pressure, tread depth/wear, and help you to make informed decisions, regarding any needed repairs before a road trip.
2. Check the weather. Know what kind of weather conditions you will be driving through/in to, in order to reach your destination. If you have experienced some winter conditions before your journey, make sure to clear all ice and snow off your vehicle before starting out. If winter weather is an issue on the day you are traveling, give yourself extra time to get to your destination, allow longer braking distances and reduce your speed.
3. Plan an Alternate Route. Try to plan out your route along less popular freeways; more travelers mean more cars and accidents, all of which you want to avoid. Even if you add a few extra miles to your trip, its a good trade off, as you could be sitting at a standstill for long periods of time.
4. Fuel up, pack smartly and be prepared. Don't start a long trip without a full tank of gas. Pack some snacks and drinks, so that you don't need to make as many stops along the way. If you have kids, make sure that you have plenty of car activities to keep them occupied - books, games, DVDs, music and power cords! Check your vehicle's emergency kit (and if you don't have one, get one in there now!), make sure that you have fresh batteries for a flashlight, as well as extra water and snacks. When packing your vehicle, make sure that everything is safely packed, so that it will not move around on your journey. Also be aware of your vehicle's load capacity to be sure that you are not putting too much weight in your car. Your vehicle's load rating (which includes passengers and cargo) can be found on a sticker inside the driver's door jamb.
5. Always buckle up. According to the National Safety Council, seatbelts can reduce the risk of fatal injury to passengers in the front seat by 45% and moderate-to-critical injury by 50%, when used properly. Proper placement of the seatbelt includes: the lap belt should fit comfortably, but snugly across your hipbones or upper thighs and below your abdomen and the shoulder belt should be worn across the center of your left shoulder and your chest. It should never be placed behind your back or under your arm, as this can actually cause injuries.
If you have children, inspect your child's car seat and make sure they are properly restrained. Four out five child safety seats are used or installed incorrectly. The seat should not be loose, make sure it is secured properly. When your child is in the seat, make sure the retainer clip is at the child's armpit level and the harness straps are in the correct slots. All children under the age of two should face backwards at 45-degree angle.
If you are bringing your pets with you, be sure to secure them with harnesses or place them in a traveling crate. And don't forget their food, extra water, toys and clean-up supplies.
6. Have a navigator. You can plan out alternative routes, but they won't help you once you are already stuck in traffic. Have an experienced passenger look online at traffic as you are traveling. There are many great apps out there, such as Sigalert.com, Waze and INRIX Traffic and by utilizing them you can proactively avoid traffic. If you are driving alone, make sure you pull over to the side of the road before using your phone. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of single passenger vehicles.
7. Leave at an awkward hour. No one really wants to drive early in the morning or late at night, but it's a sure fire way to avoid traffic and save you time and stress. It is very important to make sure that you get plenty of rest before setting out on a long drive at an odd hour - fatigued driving creates a huge hazard on the road. Fatigued driving is very similar to drunk driving and can be just as dangerous. In a survey conducted by AAA, 90% of police officers said they have pulled someone over at least once, who they suspected to be driving drunk, only to discover that the driver was drowsy, not buzzed.
8. Travel on Thanksgiving Day. Generally traffic is lighter on Thanksgiving Day itself, so traveling on that day will get you where you need to go without leaving super later or super early and with a lowered risk of sitting in traffic.
9. Leave Early. If you are staying with family for a long weekend, consider leaving before Sunday, as it the most heavily traveled day of the weekend. Consider taking the following Monday off from work and returning then - not only do you miss the traffic, but you get to spend some extra time with your family!
10. Never Drink and Drive. According to a National Survey conducted in September 2015 by Toluma Global Omnibus, about 63% of Americans couldn't identify the legal drinking limit as 0.08% blood-alcohol content. That's less than four drivers out of every ten, who know the legal limit and how it affects their judgment. It's safer to abstain from drinking or have a designated driver, as even one drink can impact your driving ability and put you, your passengers and other people on the road at risk.
Be safe, be patient and more importantly be thankful! Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
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