Everything seems to change as the holidays approach: You listen to different music, festive lights adorn homes and buildings, the food is richer, the weather changes, and people often become more aggressive on the road as they work to fit an ever-growing list of to-dos into a few weeks of preparation. That means it’s time to brush up on your defensive driving skills so you don’t end up stuck on the shoulder waiting for help to arrive.
Whether you’re off to visit family or going out to do some shopping, a few safe driving tips can help you avoid problems with other motorists as well as potentially adverse weather conditions. This quick guide will help keep you and your family safe on the road during this upcoming holiday season.
Remember: Problems Arise Quickly
Even when you’re being extra careful, driving takes a lot of focus because the driver in front of you can come to a sudden stop at any moment. Changes occur in an instant, and you have only seconds to employ defensive driving to avoid an accident. Some common problems include:
- Sudden stops
Whether the driver sees a stop sign you don’t or an animal runs out in front of him, sudden stops from the car ahead of you can easily result in fender benders. The best defensive driving tip is to maintain a safe distance away and avoid tailgating.
- Icy and slick roads
Winter driving can lead to sudden swerving on slick and icy roads. You need to always be prepared for swerving by gripping your steering wheel firmly, maintaining the posted speed limit, and not tailgating the person in front of you. If your tires begin to slide, steer into the skid — not away from it — and do your best to avoid stationary objects.
- Flat tire
Tires that are in poor shape or get punctured and slowly lose tire pressure may eventually go flat. When this happens, grip the steering wheel firmly, flip on your turn signal, and move to the right side of the road to assess the damage.
The best driving tip is always to expect the unexpected. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye and the potential for one is ever-present, so buckle up your seat belt and be vigilant.
Driving habits seem to change during the holiday season. People who normally leave enough time to get where they’re going run late and those who typically avoid distractions may end up trying to return work emails while on the road. Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous situations, including how to identify them, avoid getting in a precarious position, or recover if you’ve fallen victim.
From last-minute holiday shopping to making it home in time for dinner, rushed drivers seem to swamp the road.
- Identify — Rushed drivers are easy to spot: They don’t yield the right of way, may change lanes without using a turn signal, and don’t pay attention to posted speed limits.
- Avoid — The best way to avoid a rushed driver is to stay in your own lane. Use your turn signals, avoid tailgating, and always leave home with enough time to get where you’re going while maintaining the posted speed limit.
- Recover — The best way to recover if you’re a rushed driver or find one tailgating you is to avoid sudden stops and factor in excessive traffic before leaving home. Move out of the way of a tailgater to let him or her pass, and use hands-free calling to notify someone if you’re running late to minimize your stress levels.
It’s easy to find yourself in a hurry during the holiday season. If you avoid driving in bad weather and always build in enough time for delays, you can eliminate the need to rush.
Everyone seems to have someplace they must drive to during the holiday season. This makes it hard to avoid rush hour traffic jams.
- Identify — If it’s hard to maintain a safe distance between your car and others because there’s so many vehicles on the road, you’ve probably found yourself in congested traffic.
- Avoid — You can try to avoid heavy traffic by leaving your home earlier or later. Explore another route to avoid traffic jams and heavy traffic on highways or interstates.
- Recover — If you find yourself in congested traffic, try not to become stressed. Turn on the radio, take deep breaths, and relax. It’s a good idea to maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you and always use your turn signals.
Congested traffic happens a lot during the holiday season. Always try to build enough time into your schedule to avoid stressing about travel-related delays.
Many people like to celebrate the holidays with alcoholic beverages at family events, outings with friends, work parties, and other celebrations. Here are some safe driving tips for how to address a drunk driver on the road.
- Identify — Drunk drivers are often easy to spot as they change lanes without using turn signals, simply drift over lane lines, and may move slower than posted speed limits.
- Avoid — If you suspect a drunk driver, move out of their way. Slow down and don’t tailgate. If you can, turn on to another street or exit the highway.
- Recover — If you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident with an impaired driver, do your best to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic (if possible), attempt to get the driver’s license plate number if he or she kept driving, and alert the authorities.
Drunk drivers often cannot pay attention to the rules of the road and present a massive danger. Such impairment is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents and deaths, so consider alerting authorities if you suspect a drunk driver on the road.
It only takes a minute of distracted driving to find yourself in a motor vehicle accident, and it’s even easier to become distracted during the holidays.
- Identify — If you notice yourself talking to your kids or looking at your cell phone, you’ve become a distracted driver.
- Avoid — You can avoid distracted driving by bringing an emergency kit with things to do or a snack to keep them busy. It’s also beneficial to make any calls you need to make before starting the car, as even hands-free options can contribute to the problem.
- Recover — If you find yourself distracted, you should immediately return your attention to driving. When there’s a situation such as misbehaving children, find a safe place to pull off the side of the road and deal with it.
Distracted driving is almost as dangerous as driving drunk. When you find yourself splitting your attention, it’s best to put on your blinker and pull over until you can give driving your full attention.
Safe Driving Tips for When You Need Help
If you’re in an accident or experience car troubles, your safety and that of your passengers should be your first priority. It’s always a good idea to follow these tips:
- Keep an emergency kit in your trunk with blankets and food for comfort. It should also include a first-aid kit, jumper cables, and flares.
- Move your car out of the roadway.
- Secure your car and ensure your safety before exiting your motor vehicle to assess the damage following an accident or mechanical difficulty.
- Text friends and family to let them know where you are and the current situation.
- Call for assistance.
During the holiday season, freezing weather conditions and an increase in the number of cars on the road can combine to create unsafe driving conditions. You must always remain vigilant for quickly changing conditions and unexpected behavior, and have the contact information for a trusted towing services provider stored in your phone just in case.
Are you in need of towing services or roadside assistance? Contact Geyers Towing & Transport to speak with a towing services expert today.