The holidays are once again here and with them often comes lower temperatures, rain, snow, and more traffic. Thanksgiving, as the most traveled holiday in the United States, brings with it lots of family fun, but also a major increase in traffic. Then, comes “Black Friday” shopping, which adds to the already increased mayhem on the roadways. To keep everyone safe this holiday season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond, here are some traffic tips to help you and your loved ones enjoy the holiday season.
Sadly, Thanksgiving is ranked by the National Safety Council as the deadliest holiday of the year for travel. With a wet holiday season predicted, let’s change those statistic by adhering to these driving safety tips:
1. Keep your car in good working order
That means ensuring your windshield wipers, defroster, heater, lights, and brakes are performing in top condition. Check antifreeze and windshield washer, and be certain your tires (the spare too) are inflated properly and have good treads.
2. Check the Weather Before Your Trip
Before your trip, check the weather and road conditions (quickmap.dot.ca.gov) before you begin your journey. Knowing the expected weather conditions and road conditions can help you plan more easily for safety and avoid stressful situations on the road.
3. Follow the Basic Car Safety Rules
Once the journey begins, as the driver, you must make sure everyone is using their seatbelts for protection in the event of an accident. You’ll also want to ensure child safety seats are properly installed and kids are buckled up securely.
What are California’s Child Passenger Safety Rules?
AAA Digest of Motor Laws child passenger safety for California states the following:
“Children under age 8 and under 57” must be properly secured in a child restraint system. All other children age 8 to 16 or over 57″ must be secured in a properly fitted seat belt. Children under age 2, and under 40 lbs. or under 40”, must be properly secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.
Children under age 8 must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system in the rear seat.
California law specifically requires children to be properly restrained, meaning the lap belt is low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt is crossing the center of the chest.
Children in rear-facing car seats may not ride in front if there is an active passenger airbag.
Violation of the child passenger safety law is a standard offense.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges parents to install car seats correctly, to register all car seats, and sign up for recall notices to receive safety updates. This will help you be aware of any defective car seats that could result in your children getting injured. Click here to learn about Defective Car Seats. Check out this video provided on Car Seat Safety:
4. Stay alert while driving!
Staying alert means focusing on the road and minimizing distractions (like your cell phone). You’ll also want to be aware of those with whom you share the road.
5. Driving in inclement weather requires extra precautions
When driving in snow, rain, fog, or overcast conditions, turn on your headlights if they don’t come on automatically in low light situations. If you are driving in a downpour, try to drive in the middle lane if available as pooling often occurs on outside lanes. Remember, that while cruise control is a great feature, it shouldn’t be used in wet or snowing conditions, where skidding is often a concern. In rain and snow, decrease your speed and leave space between you and other vehicles on the road.
6. What To Do If Hydroplaning or Skidding
Should you find yourself hydroplaning or skidding, remember:
- Don’t brake or turn quickly.
- Take your foot off the gas to slow down, which should allow your tires to regain the traction needed to control the vehicle.
- Turn your steering wheel in the direction you are skidding to help regain control.
- Once you have control, straighten up.
- If you feel you must brake, do so with a light pumping action.
- For vehicles with anti-lock brakes, break normally, as your brakes will perform the pumping action.
7. “Turn around, don’t drown.®”
As the U.S. National Weather Service warns, never attempt to driver through what could be deeper than the bottom of your car.
8. Driver Sober – No Matter What!
Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs (illegal or prescription). If you plan to drink at the holiday event, designate a driver who will abstain.
9. Don’t drive while tired
Wondering if you should keep driving through the night to get the drive over with?
The team of personal injury lawyers at The Barnes Firm determined that there are just as many car accidents at night as there are during the day, despite significantly less traffic on the road!
Research conducted at The Barnes Firm shows that night time driving is much more dangerous. Since it’s difficult to see what’s on the road or near the roadway at night, drivers must always remember to stay alert, have their headlights on, and pay attention to their surroundings while operating a vehicle in the dark.
Never get behind the wheel when you are too tired to drive. Driving lethargically puts you at risk of falling asleep at the wheel and getting injured in a car accident in Los Angeles. Some say driving while very sleepy is just as bad as driving under the influence! If you feel uncontrollably sleepy, pull over, take a nap, and get moving once you’ve re-gained your energy.
10. Emergency Road kit
Always carry an emergency road kit in your vehicle. Having one means an added measure of safety, comfort, and repair preparedness.
With a little foresight and planning, your holiday travel can be safe and stress-free, allowing you to enjoy the company of family and friends. Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!
If you or a loved one are injured in a car accident this holiday season, contact The Barnes Firm car accident lawyers for a FREE case evaluation.