The Halloween candy is almost gone, and the last leaves are falling from the trees-the holiday season is here once again. Unfortunately, along with shorter days and colder temperatures, we are also faced with packed and bustling roadways. Last year, according to ShopperTrak, Black Friday alone topped out at roughly 307 million in retail foot traffic.
Of course with all this extra traffic comes added risk. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day have all ranked among the top six most dangerous U.S. holidays for drivers by Forbes. Here at Meshbesher & Spence, we want this holiday season to be a happy one, so we’ve put together a list of tips that you can use to ensure your safety on the roadways throughout the coming weeks.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Road
Be prepared: Breaking down on the freeway at any time of the year is already stressful enough, but in holiday traffic, it can turn holiday cheer into holiday drear. Make sure your car is in tip top shape: oil and filters changed (if necessary), fluids capped off, tire pressure and condition checked, windshield wiper blades replaced, battery, spark plugs, belts, and brakes should all be examined for wear and performance. Be sure to stock your vehicle with emergency supplies such as a spare tire, flares, etc. See Consumer Reports for a complete list of what you should have in your vehicle in case of emergency.
Make sure your cellphone is charged and ready to go: If an emergency does happen, you’ll be ready to make the necessary calls.
Check the weather: Consider rescheduling your errand for a different day if it’s going to rain or snow. Foul weather can turn run-of-the-mill holiday traffic into a nightmare.
Be kind: This time of year is hectic for everyone. Before you get on the road take a minute to remember that everyone, just like you, is trying to enjoy their holiday season and get the things done that they need to. By demonstrating a little patience and kindness toward other drivers, they in turn will give it back to you.
Leave earlier: With the roadways and parking lots busier than usual, it’s a good idea to assume that even a simple trip to the grocery store will take longer than usual. The solution: allow some leeway for delays by leaving fifteen to twenty minutes earlier than you normally would.
Avoid peak traffic days: Alongside worse-than-usual rush hour traffic, the holiday season hosts the biggest shopping days of the year. Staying home on these days not only keeps money in the pocket, but takes you out of the equation when it comes to risky traffic. The biggest shopping days are Thanksgiving weekend (this includes Black Friday which has, in recent years, been stretched to include Thanksgiving night), Super Saturday (the last Saturday before Christmas), and Christmas Eve. Consider ordering your gifts online to avoid the situation entirely.
Slow down and follow the rules of the road: Everyone has a lot to do this time of year. It can be hard to slow down, but by putting a little more effort into your driving you could save your own, or someone else’s, life. Obey the speed limit, adjusting accordingly for traffic and inclement weather. Be sure to use your turn signals, headlights, and hazard lights when needed.
Be aware of your surroundings: It is a time of year for burning the midnight candle, but you should avoid driving if you are overtired or fatigued beyond a reasonable limit (especially if you are traveling a long distance to visit relatives, etc.). Avoid distractions such as cellphone use while driving-both texting and talking. If you have children in the vehicle, explain to them that the roads are extra busy this time of year, and that you need quiet to concentrate.
Do not drive under the influence: According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 40% of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers. And remember, just because you make a wise decision to remain sober, doesn’t mean other drivers are-be on the lookout for drink drivers.
The holidays are a great time for celebrating, getting together with family and friends, and for taking stock of what we have to be thankful for in our lives. By following these simple tips, we hope that your holiday season is a safe one, as well as a joyful one.