Holiday Travel Safety Tips from Insurance.com

By Insurance.com Posted : 11/15/2006

The holidays are almost here and you know what that means - the kickoff to holiday travel season is about to begin. To start off this month-long of holiday traveling is none other than Thanksgiving. An estimated 33 million people will be traveling over this long holiday weekend, making Thanksgiving one of the most traveled holidays of the year, followed by Christmas and New Year's Day.

To help you prepare for the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's travel ahead, we have listed some helpful holiday road trip safety tips to help get you to and from your family gatherings safely.

Check Road Conditions and the Weather Report
How the Thanksgiving turkey will taste and what the holiday weather will be like are equally unpredictable. Even if the weather and roads look okay in your neighborhood, that may not be the case 200 miles away at Grandma's house. So play it safe this year and check the Federal Highway Administration's website for up-to-the-minute traffic information, detours and road construction before you leave. You will also want to check The Weather Channel's website to find out the weather conditions of the interstates and roads you will be traveling on. Sorry, we can't help on preparing for overcooked Turkey.

Winter Driving Essentials
Depending on where your holiday travels are taking you, you may encounter snow or even blizzard-like conditions along the way. That is why it is a good idea to pack an emergency snow kit, which should include a snow scraper and brush, a flashlight, blankets, booster cables, a shovel, cat litter or sand (to place under your tires for grip, if you get stuck in ice or snow),, flares, emergency triangles, and a first aid kit. While you may never have to use these items, you will be happy you packed them in the event of an emergency.

Winter Check-up
The last thing you want to do is break down and end up missing Mom's famous pumpkin pie all because you failed to have your car winterized. So make sure to have a certified mechanic check your oil level, tire pressure, windshield wipers, heater, defroster, antifreeze, and brakes, before you head out on icy and snowy roads.

Don't Forget Your Cell Phone
You never know what could happen during your travels, so it is always a good idea to bring your cell phone and car charger with you. If you do not have a cell phone, consider purchasing a prepaid cell phone that you can add minutes to. In the event that you do need to use your cell phone, leave the calling to one of your passengers or pull off to the side of the road to make the call.

Buckle Up
Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most dangerous and deadliest times of the year to travel. That is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reminding all of us to play it safe this holiday season and buckle up - not only is it the law; it could help save your life.

Proper Restraints for Children
While everyone understands that infants and toddlers need to be in a child safety seat, many us do not know that children under 4'9" must be in a booster seat. If you do not have a booster seat for your child, make sure to pick one up immediately.

Allow for Extra Time
The heaviest holiday travel traffic occurs during the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. With that in mind, consider leaving the Tuesday before Thanksgiving instead of the Wednesday before, or traveling home the Monday after Thanksgiving as opposed to the Sunday after.

Watch Your Speed
Speeding is never a good idea, especially during the holidays. If you obey the speed limits, you will still get to your family's house in plenty of time to enjoy the holiday festivities.

Do Not Binge Eat
There will probably be enough food to go around for seconds, thirds but, for safer holiday driving, perhaps pass on fourths. Over indulging in holiday treats can make you feel uncomfortable and groggy for the ride home; not to mention that turkey has a natural sedative called L-tryptophan which can make you sleepy. If you have a long journey ahead, consider cutting back on the turkey and maybe have a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda to help perk you up for the trip home.

Do Not Drink and Drive
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more people are killed in drinking and driving accidents during Thanksgiving weekend than during New Year's Day weekend. That being said, if you suspect that a driver has had too much to drink, contact the local authorities immediately. In addition, if you or a loved one has had too much to drink, call a cab or stay at a friend or relatives house - it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Review Your Auto Insurance Coverage
When traveling, it is always a good idea to check your auto insurance policy to see what is and is not covered in your plan. If you would like to add coverage to your auto insurance policy, visit Insurance.com's auto insurance comparison application. Here, you will be able to evaluate multiple rates from best-in-class insurance providers - helping you find the best auto insurance coverage for your holiday traveling needs.

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