According to AAA, this year's holiday travel season could be the busiest it's been in six years. AAA's 2012 Holiday Travel Forecast anticipates that 93.3 million Americans will travel by car over Christmas and New Year's, which is a 1.6% increase from 2011. Notably, the forecast also predicts that a record 84.4 million travelers will drive at least 50 miles between Saturday, December 22 and Tuesday, January 1 - which means approximately one out of four Americans will drive a long distance over the holiday.
With increased traffic and potential winter weather conditions in Missouri, you'll want to take certain precautions to help ensure you travel safe - and to reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident. In this post, we share some tips to help keep you and your family safe this season.
Holiday travel in Missouri: 5 important safety tips
1. Get your vehicle checked out before you hit the road. Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle's oil levels, tire pressure, battery, antifreeze and brakes. You'll want to make sure everything is in good working order before you set out on a long trip.
2. Expect the unexpected. Stay alert and pay close attention to the road in front of you. Safety authorities recommend that you continuously scan the road ahead: that way, if an obstacle presents itself, you'll have as much time as possible to make the necessary adjustments. "In almost every instance, your best reaction is to start to slow down," said Mark Cox, director of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. "Stopping distances can be increased by four to ten times when ice or snow is on the road. By anticipating, you can slow gradually and under control."
3. Slow down. Given this year's Holiday Travel Forecast, drivers should be prepared for traffic congestion and delays, especially on the days immediately before and after Christmas and New Year's. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of extra time to arrive at your destination: speeding in heavy traffic can create the ideal circumstances for an auto accident. Similarly, if you have to travel in winter weather, reduce your speed, expect delays, and take your time.
4. Bring supplies, just in case. It's a good idea to carry an emergency kit in your vehicle: you can customize the content of the kit to fit your family's needs. If nothing else, consider bringing along a few basic items, including jumper cables, an ice scraper and brush, a flashlight, water, non-perishable food, and blankets. And don't leave home without a charger cord for your cell phone.
5. Make responsible choices. Always wear your seat belt, and make sure your young passengers are buckled into appropriate child safety seats. Avoid driving if you've been drinking; if you're drowsy; or if you're impaired in any other way. And if you don't feel safe driving, given weather conditions, find a safe place to pull over.
We wish you a safe and happy holiday season!