2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, the world over. Now, as we look towards the holiday season, the focus firmly remains on staying safe.
Celebrations this holiday season will no doubt be different, with many people choosing to stay home, or take part in fewer activities and get-togethers.
Whatever your plans, here are eDriving’s top 10 tips for safe driving this holiday season:
- Adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and guidance
Adhere to national and local travel restrictions and safety guidance. The CDC advises that travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus, and that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved and check the COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map from AAA.
- Plan ahead
Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained. Check fluid levels, fuel, lights, tire pressures, tire condition, brakes, battery and wiper blades. Consult a professional if you’re unsure how to carry out any checks. Pack an emergency kit that includes a blanket, de-icer, water, non-perishable food, car charger for your phone, warning triangle, basic first-aid kit, flashlight.
Schedule trips to avoid peak travel times if you can. Check weather forecasts and travel updates before setting out. Delay your trip if weather conditions are bad. Let friends/ family know your travel plans and estimated time of arrival.
- Load your vehicle safely
Overloading your vehicle can affect its suspension, handling and braking capabilities. Look for maximum weight limits on a sticker inside the driver’s door or in your vehicle owner’s manual.
Make sure no items are in – or behind – the driver’s footwell and be aware that small items in the rear footwell could slide forward while your vehicle is in motion. Beware of stacking gifts anywhere that they could be projected forward in the event of a collision.
- Act to minimize distractions
You’re sure to experience noise and excitement in your vehicle this holiday season! However, packing a selection of quiet activities can help to occupy younger passengers – such as books, games consoles, tablets or DVD players (with headphones). Explain to passengers before you set off about the importance of you staying focused on the road. Remember to set up technology such as GPS before you travel. Avoid phone distraction by giving your phone to a passenger, putting it on silent or turning it off completely! Read more – Best Practice: Distracted Driving
- Get plenty of rest
It’s important to be well-rested before traveling. Driving while tired affects driving ability in the same way as drinking alcohol; it reduces reaction times and affects concentration and coordination. Allow plenty of time for a good night’s sleep before you set off and take regular breaks from driving – at least 15 minutes every two hours. Read more – Best Practice: Fatigue
- Buckle up
Enforce a rule that you will only set off when everyone’s buckled up correctly! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that seat belts saved an estimated 14,995 lives in 2017. For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45% in a car. Make sure children are seated in appropriate seats – check requirements here.
- Stick to a safe speed
Speeding reduces your reaction time in an emergency and increases the force of a collision. Travel at a speed that enables you to stop safely in the distance you can see to be clear and remember that a three-second following distance is for good conditions only. Double it when roads are wet and increase it even more in extreme weather conditions such as snow and ice. Read more – Best Practice: Speeding
- Share the road safely
Expect lots of families on the road over the holiday season; most experiencing the same challenges as you! Remember that other drivers might be distracted; they might be under pressure to get to their destination; they might be traveling on unfamiliar roads. Defensive driving helps you anticipate the actions of others, remain alert to everything around you and maintain a safety space around your vehicle. Read more – Best Practice: Sharing the Road
- Prioritize your family’s safety
Take COVID-19 restrictions and guidance into account when planning rest stops. Park in a location that enables you to keep an eye on your vehicle or take turns staying with the vehicle. Plan rest stops in busy/ well-lit areas and remove everything of value from your vehicle as soon as you arrive at your destination.
- Avoid driving impaired
When driving, no amount of alcohol is okay. Keep the “morning after effect” in mind while celebrating over the holiday period; you could still be impaired even if you feel fine. Look out for family and friends too. If you know someone has been drinking, don’t let them drive. Call them a taxi, arrange a lift with a sober friend or encourage them to stay over for the night.
Visit eDriving’s COVID-19 Resource Center for coronavirus-related news, guidance and resources.
Safe and happy holidays!