The holiday season is one of the busiest periods for travel during the entire year. Families are rushing to visit relatives in other cities or states, and shoppers clog the highways, looking to take advantage of holiday sales. The sheer number of cars on the road increases the danger of highway accidents, and motorists must be particularly careful to avoid risky behavior from other drivers.

There are a number of steps you can take before and during your journey to help you reach your destination safely. Being prepared and following basic driving safety rules will go a long way to make your holiday travel stress-free and accident-proof.

Make sure your vehicle is up to date on maintenance. Especially if you’re going on a long road trip, inspect your vehicle before leaving, or have a mechanic take a look at it. Have any lingering issues repaired, such as strange noises or warning lights. Check the tire tread and the air in the tires, change the oil, and check the battery. Replace wiper blades if necessary, and check your wiper fluid.

Fill your gas tank, and keep it full throughout your trip. If you live in a city, it’s easy to take ready access to gas stations for granted. On a long journey through rural areas, they may not be available when you run low.

Remain alert behind the wheel. If you have a keen eye on the road, you may be able to avoid a deadly crash. Do not drive while drowsy or while impaired by drugs or alcohol. It’s better to get sufficient rest before your trip, even if it means you’ll be late for dinner. Never drive drunk, and be alert for other drivers who make erratic moves. The holidays are a notorious time for drunk drivers and alcohol-related crashes.

Unless you’re traveling a very familiar route, consider printing out maps and studying them before you set out. It’s become easy in recent years to rely on phone apps to navigate, but you don’t want to take your eyes off the road, even for a few moments. Hands-free audio navigation is better than looking at your phone, but if construction or closed roads will alter your route, you should know in advance.

Prepare for bad weather. We can’t guarantee that we’ll have clear skies and dry roads when we need to take an extended car trip, and inclement weather plus heavy traffic can mean a greater chance of an accident. Check the weather forecast for the journey ahead, and plan around any storms if possible. Drive defensively during bad weather, being sure to stick to posted speed limits and slow down for other drivers when necessary. They may also be in a hurry to get to their destination and may not be driving as cautiously as they should.

Plan your journey. Become familiar with the route to your destination, including highway exits and rest stops. Plan to travel during off-peak traffic times. More accidents tend to occur during afternoon rush hours and at night when visibility is low. You may have a safer and more enjoyable trip by driving around major cities and clogged highways during peak times.

If you don’t already have a roadside assistance plan, you may want to get one. They can be a lifesaver if you get into trouble during your trip. They can send a tow truck for anything from a flat tire to a complete breakdown.

Switch drivers if possible.  If you have newer drivers with you, you may want to save the driving lessons for another time. A long car trip may not be the best time to teach them, and extended highway driving is often better left to more experienced motorists.

Bring any necessary supplies. Be sure you have tire-changing equipment as well as jumper cables. A first-aid kit is a must, and a portable battery starter may be essential if there’s no help nearby. If you have to drive in snow and/or ice, don’t forget to include tire chains, salt, an ice scraper, and a shovel in case you need to dig yourself out of a snowbank.

Following these safety tips can help protect you and your loved ones on the road, giving you a stress-free and happy holiday. If you do experience a crash during this time, the San Diego highway accident attorneys of Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers can help. Call us right away at (619) 233-5020 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.

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