Many people choose to travel during the holiday season. With the volume of travelers and unexpected delays and weather condition, holiday travel can be a hazardous experience if you are not prepared. However, if you follow these holiday travel tips, you can rest easier knowing that you are better equipped for the road.
Staying safe on the roads over the holidays and every day:
- Prepare your car for winter and keep an emergency preparedness kit with you.
- Get a good night’s sleep before departing and avoid drowsy driving.
- Leave early, plan ahead for heavy traffic.
- Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled.
- Put that cell phone away; many distractions occur while driving, but cell phones are the main culprit.
- Practice defensive driving.
- Designate a sober driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol or over-the-counter prescription and illegal drugs can cause impairment.
- Plan your drive ahead of time and know alternate routes. As with travel at any other time of year, extensive planning ensures that you are prepared for whatever might happen during your trip. If you’re driving down a highway and hit construction, a road closing, or severe traffic it’s important to not only know your route, but to also know alternate routes so you feel confident in where you are going at all times. Also, if you want to avoid traffic, plan to leave at a specific time when you might be able to drive through that area before or after peak traffic times. A GPS navigation system can be a huge help when it comes to staying on track, avoiding road closures, or finding your way back to the main road if you get lost.
- Make frequent rest stops. Driving in the winter can tire you out much more than in the summer. Making frequent stops to rest or just stretch your legs is important for keeping your energy level high enough to be alert on the road. Even just stopping for a few minutes every few hours can do wonders for your energy level.
- Carry a cell phone and charger. You never know when you might experience car trouble or where you might be when that happens; therefore, having a cell phone is crucial for utmost safety. Having a cell phone means having the ability to call for assistance from your personal vehicle or a ride share to take you to a place of refuge.
- Along with your cell phone, you also need to carry a phone charger to be able to keep the battery fully charged. A wall charger is good when you are making a stop, but a car charger is better for being on the road. If you have a smart device, you may also consider downloading certain apps that can also assist you if your car should break down in the middle of nowhere. Be sure to have phone number(s) for roadside assistance in your phone contact list.
- Stay hydrated. While you may not think of dehydration as a holiday travel safety hazard, not having enough water during a long drive could cause fatigue or decreased alertness. Keep a few bottles of water handy, and sip often to keep yourself hydrated throughout the trip.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap or antibacterial hand sanitizer. This is especially important if you are traveling via public conveyance. Everything you touch has been touched by someone else, including armrests and door handles.
- Give someone close to you a copy of your trip itinerary and photocopies of important documents before you leave. This will give law enforcement the ability to retrace your route in cases where you did not reach your destination and there may be some suspected foul play. Also, you may consider leaving photocopies of your passports, credit cards, and any other types of identification with a trusted person in case something happens to the original documents.
The Dallas Police Department would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!