Few things typify the holidays like hitting the road to share the magic of the season with family and friends. But with the road choked with other drivers, winter weather hazards, and long empty stretches of sleepy asphalt, a holiday road trip can quickly turn ugly.
Keep the joy meter pegged by taking a few precautions to prepare for your trip.
- Get Your Pre-drive ZZZZZs - Drowsy driving is a largely unheralded hazard, taking a back seat to more socially active no-no's like texting and drinking while driving. A sleepy driver is a gigantic hazard to themselves, passengers and everyone on the road. Make sure you are well rested for the drive and you will find the trip much safer and more enjoyable.
- Secure the Figgie Pudding - In the event of a collision, packages, food, electronics and other holiday items become airborne hazards and can cause significant harm to passengers. Ensure everything you carry to grandma's house is secured, preferably in the trunk or behind the back seat, so flying objects are less likely if the worst happens.
- Check Your Tires - Visually inspect your tires for damage. Make sure they are filled to the manufacturer's recommended pressure to maximize safety and fuel economy. Cold weather reduces tire pressure so even if you checked recently, check again. Also, make sure you have a good spare and the tools necessary to swap out a tire. A flat tire is an inconvenience, not having a spare or the right tools to install it is a holiday mirth ending nightmare.
- Wipers, Lights and Defroster - Bottom line, when it comes to visibility, you want to be able to see and you want others to see you. Before you hit the highway, take your vehicle to your local auto service center and have them check your lights, wipers and defroster to make sure everything is in working order. Most repairs on these systems are cheap and can really make the trip more enjoyable during bad weather or after dark.
- Roving Urgent Care - You never know what kind of minor health issue you may have to deal with on the road, so a first aid kit with bandages, Pepto, your favorite headache medicine, prescriptions you can't live without and an ace bandage will cover most short-term issues. Throw in an inexpensive compact LED flashlight and a pair of over-the-counter magnifying glasses for small work. Just knowing you have these things along can help give peace of mind when covering the miles.
- Stop and Go - Before any road trip, you should have your battery and brakes inspected. A no-start situation when you are far from home can be a travel buzz kill, and a brake problem can kill more than your holiday buzz. Your trusted auto service center can check these things in less time than it takes to bake a pumpkin pie, and the confidence you will gain will more than pay for any necessary repairs.
The holidays are a magical time of year and holiday travel is as much a part of the celebration as the destination. Keep a smile on everyone's face and travel safely by using your noggin before you hit the open road.