Over 90% of travelers will head to their Thanksgiving destination by motor vehicle this year. But for road travelers, winter can also be the most dangerous time of year. Motor vehicle accidents involving ice and snow, claim the lives of 6,000 Americans and injure 500,000 more every year. The following winter driving tips will help you stay safe and arrive in good spirits for your holiday.
Have your car examined before you leave. Even minor maintenance can be a real headache while traveling. Take it to your local auto shop for a quick once over, add plenty of windshield washing solution and make sure your tires are winter ready and properly inflated.
Be prepared for a change in course. Before you depart, become familiar with your route and have alternatives identified. It’s very important that you’re ready for anything on the road that could slightly change your plans, including construction, road closings and traffic jams.
Stay hydrated for the journey. A recent Mayo Clinic study shows that a mere one- to two-percent loss of body weight can quickly lead to fatigue and decreased alertness, which could be deadly in icy winter driving. So drink lots of water, even if it means more bathroom stops.
Pack a winter safety kit for the car. Don’t leave without the essentials for an emergency — a cell phone and a car charger; ice scraper; tow rope and jumper cables; sand or cat litter to aid with traction; blankets; flashlights, matches and emergency candles; first aid kit; portable radio; and a good book, in case you do get stuck.
Make frequent rest stops. Winter driving is much more fatiguing than in the summer, so you’ll want to make time to stop and stretch your legs. Just a few minutes off the road will make all the difference in improving your alertness when you’re back behind the wheel.