A car with christmas decorations on top of it.

Home for the Holidays: 8 Tips for a Safer Holiday Commute

Why are more people traveling this year?

Marshall Doney, the president of AAA, cites rising incomes and low gas prices as the reason why more Americans plan to travel to celebrate Christmas and New Years in 2016. Most of these holiday travelers will commute to their destination by motor vehicle. In fact, AAA estimates that 93.6 million people will take a road trip this holiday season. This is an increase of 1.5% from last year.

What does the increase in Travel mean?

The increase in holiday travel will lead to more congestion on Dallas and Fort Worth highways. This congestion often leads to more accidents. Most importantly, the increase in drivers on Texas roads means that you need to know how to stay safe on the roads this holiday season.

  1. Avoid Distracted Driving

    Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that prevents a driver from focusing on the road. Distracted driving has become a major problem on highways all across America and Dallas / Fort Worth is not immune to this problem. Every day nine people die as a result of a distracted driving accident and many more people are injured.

    One of the most common types of distracted driving is operating a cell phone while driving. When you are driving, you should not operate a cell phone. If you need to use a GPS, consider having another passenger read you directions. If this is not a possibility, consider placing the cell phone in a cell phone holder that is attached to your air vent so that you do not have to take your eyes off the road to look at your GPS.

    Another way to guard against distracted driving is to ensure that your mirrors are already in the correct position before you begin your trip. This will prevent you from attempting to adjust your mirrors while you are operating your vehicle.

  2. Wear Seat Belts and Car Seats

    Seat belts save lives. Everyone in your vehicle should wear a seatbelt at all times. If you are traveling with a child under the age of eight your child may need a car seat. You should make sure that you have properly installed your child’s car seat in the vehicle before you leave on your holiday trip.

  3. Do Not Drink and Drive

    Around the holiday season there is often an increase in the number of DUIs, and as a result the roads are more dangerous during the new year holiday due to the increase of intoxicated drivers on the road. This holiday season you should drive defensively. Keep a look out for people that are not operating vehicles in a safe manner.

    Driving while intoxicated endangers the safety of everyone on the road. You can save lives this holiday season by not getting behind the wheel if you have had too much to drink.

  4. Be aware of Trucks and Buses

    There will likely be extra buses and trucks on the road this holiday season. When you are driving next to a truck or a bus, make sure that you leave enough space between your vehicle and the bus or truck. You should also avoid driving in a truck’s blind spot. Lastly, you should not make a quick lane change in front of a truck. If you attempt to cut off a truck, the truck may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision with your car.

  5. Follow the Rules of the Road

    You should make sure that you obey the rules of the road when you take your holiday road trip. This include following the posted speed limit. If you are traveling too fast, you may not be able to apply your breaks in time in case of an accident.

    You should also make sure that you are not following the car in front of you too closely, and you should stop at all red lights and stop signs. This may seem like a simple tip, but following the rules of the road can often prevent accidents that would occur due to careless driving.

  6. Avoid Drowsy Driving

    Drowsy driving refers to being impaired while operating a motor vehicle as a result of sleep deprivation or fatigue. According to Triple AAA 21% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. During the holidays, everyone wants to make sure that they arrive at their destination as soon as possible. However, if you are feeling drowsy while operating your vehicle you should stop and take a break. If is better to arrive at your destination a little bit late than to get in a potentially fatal car accident.

  7. Be Prepared

    One unfortunate reality of holiday travel is that many drivers become stranded during their holiday road trips. If you have car problems on your holiday road trip, you should have a plan. Often people become stranded due to problems that could be easily prevented such as a flat tire or a dead battery. Before your trip, you should inspect your car to make sure that your vehicle is ready for a holiday trip. Be sure to check your tire pressure, and make sure that you have a spare tire in case of a blowout.

    You should also have an emergency supply kit in your car. Your emergency supply kit should include a charged cell phone, a first aid kit, jumper cables, water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, a warm blanket, and a windshield ice scraper.

    You should also know what to do if your car breaks down on your trip. The first thing that you should do is turn your hazard lights on. Then find a safe location to stop the vehicle. You should never get out of your car if you are forced to stop on a busy road.

  8. Do not Drive if the Roads are not Safe

    If there is ice on the road, you should consider postponing your trip. Icy roads often lead to dangerous driving conditions.  The best move would be to wait until the weather warms up and road conditions become safe again.

What if I Get in a Car Accident

In the unfortunate event you are involved in a car accident over the holiday season, the first step is to make sure everyone is ok.  For information on what to do after a car accident click here.  If you need legal assistance, you can contact a Board Certified personal injury and Fort Worth car accident lawyer at Stoy Law Group, PLLC.  You can reach us at the office at (817) 820-0100 or fill out a free case evaluation here.