While the December holiday season is not as busy as Thanksgiving in terms of traffic, it certainly is among the busier driving times of the year. One reason why the week of Thanksgiving usually yields more traffic is that most people travel on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday, and roads are typically quieter on Thanksgiving Day. While Christmas traffic is not as bad as Thanksgiving traffic, it is still severe enough to require a wise plan. Of course, your overall holiday commute depends on how far you are traveling, and whether you need to access major highways to arrive at your destination. However, the fact remains – during the holidays, there are more drivers on the road (many of which do not drive regularly), which means you need to pay extra attention to your surroundings. Below are just a few ways in which you can drive safely and smartly this holiday season.
You’ve packed the car with your family, luggage, and Christmas gifts, and are ready to embark on your journey. Then, as you are pulling out of your street, you remember that you left the lights on or the door unlocked, and need to go back. As a result, you’ve just added on an additional 20 minutes to your trip. While this may not seem like a big deal at the time, you truly never know how bad the traffic will be. Traffic apps are great to give you a rough idea of how the roads are, but many rely on user data and thus, are never 100% accurate. The lesson here is to allow yourself and your family extra time to reach your destination.
This one is a no-brainer, yet many people make the mistake of departing during heavy driving times year after year. If you can, avoid driving during the morning or evening work commutes. Midday is usually a safe bet in terms of when to leave. Also, avoid driving late at night when you are more tired and apt to make a mistake. Early in the morning (around 6 a.m.) is a better choice, as long as you have your morning cup of coffee! The adage, “Take a Break, Stay Awake for Safety’s Sake” also applies here.
If you’re traveling with small children or infants, you’ll definitely want to pack a bag with snacks, water, and any other essentials needed for a comfortable ride. When packing food and beverages, pack twice as much as you think you’ll need. It’s better to have extra food and drink than not enough, and have to make a pitstop.
Unfortunately, the odds of an accident increases with the number of drivers on the road. Drivers can mitigate these odds by keeping their eyes on the roads at all time and avoiding as many distractions as possible. Don’t text (or call) and drive, and have a co-pilot present (if possible) to assist you with the radio or handing you a drink of water. If you drop something, have someone else pick it up – taking your eyes off of the road could mean the difference between life and death.
Finally, normal driving rules are extra important during the holidays. Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers do the same. Stay at or below the speed limit at all times and be extra vigilant for reckless drivers. By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure a pleasant and stress-free holiday driving experience.