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Driving Tips for a Thanksgiving Road Trip

Even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic, many are planning to travel to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and loved ones. Some will follow the guidelines at Thanksgiving—wearing masks, social distancing and so forth, in an effort to make the get-together safe. There are steps you can also take to travel safely on the road, on a holiday that typically packs the highways with drivers.

Here are some tips to get you to your celebrations safely:

  1. Get your car ready for the road. Check over your car and get it ready for the road trip. Fill up the gas tank. Make sure the cooling system and radiator are serviced before you take off. Check the tires, replacing any that are tread bare and add air to be at the recommended tire pressure. Look at the windshield wipers, replacing them if necessary. Replenish windshield washer fluid.
  2. Put together an emergency kit. Take these items with you in case you have a roadside emergency situation:
  • Phone charger
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks.
  • Warm clothes, gloves and hats
  • Blankets
  • Warning flares, or triangles, and flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Basic hand tools and a small shovel
  • Sand or traction mats for icy or snowy roads
  • Paper towels
  1. Try to avoid peak travel times. For Thanksgiving, Wednesday prior to the day of the holiday and Sunday, the last day are the busiest travel days.
  2. Be aware of other cars and trucks. As they say, watch out for the other guys. Be extra careful around trucks because they can’t stop as quickly as a car. Beware of blind spots. Whenever you are unable to see the truck driver in the trucks side mirrors, he or she can’t see you.
  3. Follow safe driving rules. Driver and passengers should wear seatbelts. The driver needs to be sure your vehicle isn’t too close to the car ahead. Relax and go with the holiday traffic flow—you’ll get there when you get there!
  4. Don’t be a distracted driver. Being distracted while driving is often the cause of accidents. If possible, entrust your cell phone to a passenger so you won’t be distracted by it.
  5. Keep an eye on weather conditions. When possible, drive in the daytime and avoid driving in extreme conditions such as ice, hail, snow or severe winds.
  6. Take a GPS tracker. A portable GPS will find gas stations and restaurants as you travel. Some can warn you when there’s congestion down the road so you can choose a different route if you want. A GPS can also contact emergency services to let them know you’ve been in an accident and show them where you’re located.
  7. Make plenty of pit stops along the way. Let the driver rest every couple of hours, or 100 miles. This will help maintain the driver’s ability to be alert, focused and less stressed.

Traveling during the holidays can be nerve-wracking because of traffic, but other things can impact the drive—like having kids or pets with you in the car. Stay safe, stay alert but relaxed, and enjoy Thanksgiving!

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