Usually, at this time of year, AAA would be predicting a record-breaking number of travelers over the Independence Day holiday. This year, traffic volumes are expected to be much lower, due to the coronavirus pandemic. While shutdown restrictions may be easing, many people are still avoiding all but essential travel. However, there are still plenty of reasons to be cautious if you are planning to get on the road.

Whatever your travel plans, here are eDriving’s road safety tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe over the Independence Day holiday:

  1. Adhere to your state’s shutdown regulations and social distancing guidance. If you are traveling, make sure to check the rules in place along your route and at your destination. AAA has published a COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map.
  2. Carry out a thorough vehicle check (brakes, lights, tires, fluid levels, windshield) and pay extra attention if the vehicle has only been used sparingly over the past few months. Get the vehicle serviced if within 500 miles of the next service interval. It’s also a good idea to check under your hood and wheel wells for signs of small animals that might have found a temporary home during the shutdown!
  3. Avoid the busiest times for travel. INRIX typically publishes predictions of peak travel times in the run-up to holiday periods. Plan your route in advance, allowing for regular rest stops in safe places; at least 15 minutes for every two hours of driving and more frequently if you feel tired.
  4. Plan your trip in advance, taking hygiene and sanitation factors into account (what do you need to carry with you? e.g. hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, etc.). Pack a breakdown kit that includes a flashlight, charged phone, jumper cables, first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, emergency flares, non-perishable food and plenty of water– plus any additional emergency items required by law in your state.
  5. Drive defensively – remembering that some drivers may not have been behind the wheel for several weeks, potentially leaving them with “rusty” skills. Best Practice Guide: Defensive Driving
  6. Make sure you’re well-rested before driving, and take at least a 15-minute break for every two hours of driving (more frequently if you feel tired). Best Practice Guide: Fatigue
  7. Avoid distractions while driving. You might not realize it but you may have become more reliant on technology over recent weeks, so the safest option is to turn your phone off or place it out of reach. Best Practice Guide: Distracted Driving
  8. Be aware that emotions on the road are likely to be running high! Many families have been in shutdown together for several weeks, and this could be one of their first trips out. This can affect driver behavior. Expect to encounter a range of excited/ distracted/ frustrated drivers.
  9. Avoid impairment, whether it be through alcohol, drugs or medication.
  10. Obey traffic rules and remember that emptier roads do not make it safer or acceptable to drive at unsafe speeds

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Happy Fourth of July!