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Five Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads over the Holidays
November 24, 2010
man with and on steering wheel in car

The holidays are a time of cheer, but they can also be a time for battling traffic and bad weather all the way to Grandma’s house. Staying safe should be a top priority for all travelers so BBB recommends taking a few precautions when hitting the road this holiday.

Every year, holiday travelers take to the skies and hit the rails, but most spill onto the highways. Last year, AAA estimated that 87.7 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles over the holidays—85 percent of which drove.

“Because of weather conditions and increased traffic, staying safe on the roads over the holidays takes a few additional precautions,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO, BBB | Greater Maryland. “Before loading up the family, make sure the car is in good shape and you’re prepared for bad weather. While you’re driving, put down your cell phone or GPS and focus on the road ahead.”

Your BBB recommends taking the following steps for safe driving this holiday season:

Create a car safety kit – Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can prepare for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper and warm gloves.

Take the car in for a checkup – Breaking down on the side of the road can definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. If your car is due for a check up, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires and, if you plan on driving through serious winter weather, consider getting snow tires. 

Take your Better Business Bureau with you – When you’re away from home or in the midst of an emergency, it’s hard to know which businesses—such as tow trucks and locksmiths—you can trust. The good news is you can now rely on BBB’s mobile optimized website for finding businesses you can trust when you’re away from your computer.

Start early and slow down – The best way to fight holiday traffic is to give yourself some extra time to make the trip, and don’t speed. Speeding leads to accidents which increase traffic even more. Also, if you’re caught speeding by law enforcement, that adds travel time and puts a dent in your holiday spending.

Drop the distractions – According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of accidents happen when people are talking on their cell phone or sending text messages.  When you’re behind the wheel, don’t text and drive, use a hands free headset when talking on the phone and get someone else to fumble with the GPS.