The holidays might be a little different this year. We know that a lot of people have chosen not to participate in Halloween because of COVID-19, and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s gatherings could be more limited as well. Even though there may not be as much travel going on this year as in years past, gatherings will still be happening in a lot of families, and tens of millions of Americans are still expected to travel at least a 50-mile distance to visit family and friends.
If you are one of those who is still planning on traveling a significant distance to get together with relatives, be sure you plan ahead and prepare yourself for a safe and enjoyable holiday journey:
Perform a Vehicle Maintenance Check
Before you take your car on a long journey, you should always have it checked over to make sure everything is in good working order. Here are some areas that should be looked at:
- If you are close to the due date or mileage limit, change the oil before your trip.
- Check the tread depth on your tires and have them rotated (if this service is due). Also make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Test your battery to make sure it is working properly and not losing any of its charge.
- Check out your wiper blades to make sure they are not damaged and/or leaving streaks on the windshield. If so, replace your blades before your trip.
- Fill plenty of window washer fluid into the reservoir and have an extra bottle with you in case you run into weather that requires you to use a lot of it.
- Have your brake pads inspected to make sure there is plenty of wear left on them.
- Ask your mechanic about any other issues that might need to be addressed before you leave.
Put Together an Emergency Vehicle Safety Kit
If you are traveling in the southern part of the US, then you are less likely to run into severe winter weather, although it is not impossible. If you are going to be traveling through northern states, however, then you will definitely need a winter survival kit.
For starters, get some sand, cat litter, or a traction mat to help you get unstuck if you are stuck on a slippery or snowy road. In addition, pack the following items:
- Warm clothing
- Blankets, hats, and gloves
- A small shovel
- Flashlights with fresh batteries
- A portable USB phone charger (in case your car dies, and you need to charge your phone)
- Basic hand tools
- An emergency first-aid kit
- Drinking water and nonperishable snacks (in case you get hungry or thirsty while you are stuck waiting for help)
Prep your Kids for the Journey
Bringing your kids along? Good luck with that. Just kidding! Kids are wonderful to have along on a family road trip – as long as you prepare them for the journey.
Let your kids know how far you will be traveling, how often you will be stopping to eat and for bathroom breaks, and instruct them to stay close to you and not talk to strangers when you stop. Also make sure to have plenty of snacks and drinks along for when they get hungry and thirsty.
Finally, think about ways to keep your kids occupied during the trip. One way would be to let them play with their own devices, listen to their own music, and watch videos/DVDs. An entirely different approach would be to come up with fun family activities like games and sing-alongs that you can do together. Do whatever works best for you – we won’t judge 😊
Load your Roadside Assistance Phone Number into your Contact List
This is a small and often overlooked step that only takes a couple minutes, but it can save you a lot of headache if you get a flat tire or end up some other type of difficulty. Find the phone number to AAA or whatever roadside assistance you have (you do have roadside assistance, right?), then load that number into the contact list on your smartphone for easy retrieval.
Get Plenty of Rest Before you Head Out
When you are getting ready to drive for a full day or longer, you should always get plenty of rest the night before. For most people, this generally means at least seven hours of sleep. This will help prevent you from getting drowsy or sleepy while you are driving. If you do start to feel tired while behind the wheel, have someone else drive for a while (if possible), or pull over into someplace safe and take a nap.
Give the Smartphone Duties to One of the Passengers
The worst thing you can do as a driver is get bogged down with too many distractions. In particular, texting and other smartphone activities should always be put on hold while you drive. If you do need to use your GPS or if you need to call or text somebody while you are on the road, give these duties to one of your passengers if possible.
Monitor the Weather Report
Before you leave, take a look at the latest weather forecast for the areas in which you will be traveling. If there is any severe or wintry weather in the forecast, see if there are any alternative routes you can take. If not, slow down, drive carefully, and be ready to make use of some of the items in your emergency safety kit.
Holiday road trips can definitely try your patience. Kids can get on your nerves – for that matter, your spouse or partner can get on your nerves as well. And you know that there are millions of others out there going different places for the holidays, so you are likely to run into some heavy traffic. Take a deep breath, pray, meditate, or whatever you have to do. Be mentally prepared for the trip and be ready to deal more effectively with the things that might normally annoy or irritate you.
Enjoy Your Trip
Take all the proper safety steps, be patient, stay in control, and above all else, have fun spending time with your loved ones. We spend so much of our lives working, and we deserve to take some time out to enjoy the moments that we have to share with those closest to us.
Stay safe and happy holidays from all of us at Stein & Fox Accident Attorneys!