Don't Stress About Safety While Traveling for the Holidays

December 19, 2018

10 Tips for Traveling Safely for the Holidays

You don’t ever want it to happen. But the Holiday Season is among the worst times to suffer an accident or breakdown on the road. Yet the risk is greater.

107 million of us will be traveling -- 97 million of that total will be on the roads. And, according to AAA, an average of around 1.2 million of those travelers likely will experience some sort of problem with their cars or their journey.

You may be driving in unfamiliar surroundings where weather or darkness patterns are different to those here in Southern California. Or you could be traveling locally but in too much of a hurry or with too much noisy excitement in the car.

No matter what the reason, please don’t take risks on the road, especially if you have a precious "cargo" of family or friends.

Traveling Tips for the Holidays

In addition to the key common sense rules like don't drink and drive,don’t text and drive, always buckle-up and always obey the speed limit, here are 10 more simple Holiday travel precautions you can take to ensure you arrive safely at your destination:

1. Advance Holiday travel preparation: Plan your journey in advance; map it if you'll be going somewhere unfamiliar; and make sure your vehicle is fit for the road and weather conditions ahead. If you're heading into snow territory, take tire chains, boots and some kitty litter -- yes, because it's one of the best things you can use to get traction if your car gets stuck!

2. Tell others about your Holiday travel plans and the route you propose to take. Set off in plenty of time; check traffic and weather reports and change your plans and route accordingly. If you're going to be late, don't put your foot down -- either stop and phone ahead or get one of your passengers to do so. Nothing is as urgent as the need to stay safe.

3. Don’t drive if you're feeling tired. Be well-rested before you leave and make regular rest stops where you can stretch your legs. Fifteen minutes every two hours is the recommended amount. If you feel yourself tiring, stop where it's safe to do so as soon as possible, take a breather and a nap if you can. If you leave the car, perhaps for a cup of joe, make sure any valuable items are well-concealed.

4. Be sure to carry emergency equipment and supplies. At the very least, these should include a first aid kit (here's what the Red Cross recommends: ), a fully-charged cell phone (and a charging cable that can be plugged into a car outlet), flashlight, flares, jumper cables, bottles of water and energy-packed candy bars. If it's going to be cold, take blankets and some instant hand-warmers.

5. And, if it's going to be icy or snowy, make sure you know how to drive in those slippery conditions. In fact, don’t drive if it's going to be really bad. But if you do, follow these tips from the AAA.
· Accelerate and decelerate slowly
· Allow at least 8 to 10 seconds drive time away from the vehicle in front
· Don’t stop going uphill -- but don’t power up either
· Don’t use cruise control

6. In fact, if you're driving in an area that you don’t know, use extra caution. Allow for possible sudden bends and unfamiliar changes in traffic arrangements. And remember, if you're driving out of state, other states may not have the same rules that we have here in California -- like turning on a red signal. You might find it helpful to use traffic apps to keep you up to date on snarl-ups and danger spots.

7. Avoid the dangers of distracted driving. That includes intrusive noise from your passengers. If you have children, calm them in advance and make sure they stay that way. Provide them with activities that keep them quiet. If necessary, pull over to urge them to be quiet. Consider banning all phone calls.

8. If you sense you're in trouble while driving (with a puncture for instance) try to steer your car to safety. If you can't do that, switch on your hazard warning lights. Don’t get out of the car unless and until you know it's safe to do so. If you're in a dangerous or desperate situation, call 911. Otherwise call road rescue services. Keep your roadside assistance details easily accessible in the glove compartment.

9. Remember your personal needs. When you're going to be away from home, give some thought to the things you'll need while away, especially if there's a possibility you might have to stay longer than planned. In addition to that spare change of undies, don’t forget your medications, a spare pair of reading glasses and anything else that contributes to your essential wellbeing, including contact numbers for your neighbors.

10. And here's a bonus tip you might not have thought of. Christmas Day is actually one of the safest times to travel our highways -- because, on the day itself, roads are actually way quieter than normal. Travel then if you can. Daytime driving is also much safer that driving late at night -- apart from anything else, there are more alcohol-impaired drivers on our roads at night.

But even with the best will -- and the best precautions -- in the world, you can't guarantee to avoid an accident, especially if it's something beyond your control like another driver who’s not as cautious as you.

So, make sure you're properly insured. Have your car insurance documents with you. And know what to do in terms of accident reporting and exchange of information. More information on that from the Insurance Information Institute here:

If you need to arrange or check your auto insurance coverage, please contact Aldrich Taylor. We're happy to help.

Traveling Safely for the Holidays - By Air

Also, let's not forget there's more to Christmas and New Year travel safety than just using caution on the road. Millions of people will be flying to their destinations over the holidays.

If you're one of them, make sure you check your flights, allow plenty of time to travel and are fully aware of airport emergency provisions including escape routes. As the public address systems are always reminding us, don’t leave your baggage unattended at the airport.

If you're traveling through LAX, you'll find details of the airport's security arrangements here:

And don’t forget your passport -- if you're leaving the country -- plus your travel insurance documents. If you want to know if you need travel insurance, please contact us.

Christmas and New Year should be a time of peace, goodwill and celebration. However you make your journey and wherever you're headed -- or even if you'll be staying home -- we wish you safe times and, of course, Happy Holidays!