Holiday season is peak travel time. “From Atlantic to Pacific / Gee, the traffic is terrific,” goes the song, and it’s about ten times truer today than it was when Perry Como sang it in 1954. The more people on the road, the more important it is to take extra care preparing for your trip and driving with safety in mind.
90% of safe travel is in the planning. Even if you’ve driven to grandmother’s house more times than you can count, it’s still essential to run through a safety checklist before you hit the road.
- Auto Insurance: Make sure your auto or motorcycle insurance policy is up-to-date and has the coverage you need. The rates of accidents spike during the holiday season, and even the most careful drivers can find themselves in dangerous situations. Best to be sure you’re covered!
- License and Registration, Please: … And pack proof of insurance, while you’re at it! Again, despite a careful driver’s best efforts, accidents do happen, so be sure you’ve got an active driver’s license, current registration and proof of insurance at the ready. We know you’ll follow all state and local speed limits, of course, so we won’t even bother to mention that here.
- Roadside Assistance: Whether you have roadside assistance through your insurance agency, your bank, a cell phone carrier or AAA, make sure your policy is active before you set out on your trip. If you choose not to participate in a roadside assistance program, be sure you have all the tools you need to change a tire or take care of any other minor repair en route. While you’re at it, check your spare and be sure it’s properly inflated and in good condition.
- Basic Car Maintenance: If you’ve been putting off an oil change and haven’t checked your tire pressure since August, take a little time to get your car ready for the long haul. Check the levels of oil, coolant, windshield fluid and brake fluid. Test your lights, including turn signals, taillights, reverse lights and the low and high beams on your headlights. Bring your tires up to their recommended PSI. Make sure wipers work well and your windows are clean.
- Know Where You’re Going: Don’t be too dependent on your phone to tell you where to go. Review your map carefully before you leave. Jot down some of the key milestones, exits and turns. Heaven forbid you lose cell service, overshoot a turn and miss the turkey!
- Watch the Weather: Keep an eye on the weather forecasts for all the regions you’ll pass through along the way. Watch out for storm warnings and predictions of rain, snow and ice. If it looks like a major storm will impact your route, seriously consider delaying the trip until it’s cleared. If you’re traveling through steep or mountainous terrain, or roads that tend not to be cleared regularly, bring tire chains with you or put your snow tires on before you leave.
- Charge Your Devices. Start your drive with a fully charged phone. Bring along both a car charger and a rechargeable battery pack. That way, should your car break down, you can still keep your phone charged to call emergency services, friends, relatives, hotels or airlines.
A Calm State of Mind, or “Visualize the Apple Pie”
When it comes to safe holiday driving, getting there is what’s important. Don’t worry about getting there before the car in the other lane or teaching that tailgater a lesson. It’s not a contest and it’s not a race. The one guaranteed result of road rage is regret. Don’t leap at the opportunity to join in on someone else’s bad judgment. Maintain a smooth, safe speed, drive carefully and visualize grandma’s apple pie. Relaxing music also goes a long way.
Should you still be tempted to drive aggressively to “make up time,” get ready for a big surprise. According to AAA, speeding accomplishes nothing of the sort. If you drive 65 mph on a 45 mph-posted road for five miles, the most you will save is a whopping 1.9 minutes. Not exactly worth risking your life or the lives of others. Keep cool and prioritize arriving in one piece.
We want to be sure you have a safe and happy holiday season. If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, please contact us today and we will be happy to help.