Safe Driving Tips for the Holidays

With the end of the year holidays upon us, bringing inevitably heavy traffic and , congested highways, a little preparation can help avoid a calamitous and even tragic incident. At this time of year, the roads are full of drivers who are stressed, frustrated, anxious, distracted, or all of these. Here are some suggestions of what you should do before you even leave your house:

  1. PLAN YOUR TRIP: Check traffic reports and weather forecasts before you leave. Bring a paper map, in case your GPS or smartphone are out of range, out of minutes, or out of charge. You may want to have an alternate route planned in advance.
  2. PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE:  Before you leave, especially if you are planning a long trip, have a mechanic or other knowledgeable person check your lights, oil, tires, belts and hoses, brake fluid, antifreeze fluid, and the condition of your car’s battery.
  3. PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED: Keep a blanket, boots, an extra pair of gloves, and a flashlight in the trunk of your car. Keep your gas tank at least half full can help prevent fuel-line freezing – and running our of gas! Traction mats, sand, and even kitty litter can help improve traction on icy surfaces.[1]
  4. PREPARE YOURSELF: Get plenty of sleep. If you plan on driving during your holiday travel, try to get plenty of restful sleep the night or two before you leave. Not only will it help you remain more alert during the drive, but it will also help make your trip more enjoyable.[2]

Now that you’ve made your preparations, and managed to corral your family, belongings and gifts into the vehicle, you’re ready to get on the road. Here are some tips to follow while you’re driving:

  1. BUCKLE UP: Before you even take your vehicle out of “park”, make sure that everyone in the car is wearing their seatbelts. Remember, seatbelts save lives.[3]
  2. DRIVE DEFENSIVELY: Assume that other drivers are distracted, sleepy, or impaired.  Follow all posted speed limits and maintain a safe following distance.  Don’t respond inappropriately to aggressive drivers. Allowing aggressive drivers to pass you or go through an intersection ahead of you not only allows you to control the situation, but also helps you keep yourself and your family safe.[4]
  3. CHILL OUT: Relax. You can’t control traffic or other delays. Getting frustrated is only likely to cause you to make poor decisions and engage in risky behavior behind the wheel.  Maintain a positive attitude while driving.  Not only will this make the trip more enjoyable for you and your passengers, but your trip will also be safer.[5]
  4. BE ALERT: Stay fresh and be vigilant while driving. Tired drivers tend to make mistakes, so make sure to take plenty of breaks. Switch drivers for a period of time if you need to do so. If you feel yourself getting tired, pull into a rest area or business, get some fresh air, or buy something to refresh you.[6]
  5. AVOID DISTRACTIONS: If you are driving, don’t use your cell phone. If something happens and you need to use your cell phone, find a safe area and pull off the road to use it. Remind your passengers that you need to concentrate on driving, and try to avoid stressful topics of conversation.

By following these tips, you can make the trip to your holiday destination safer.  You’ll also be able to focus on what really matters, enjoying the holidays with your family.  You’ll arrive in a better mood, and help keep the roadways safer for you, your family, and other motorists on the highway.  At the Allen Law Firm, we wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday time.

[1] The helpful tips above and more can be found at “7 Holiday Driving Tips”, November 2012 newsletter, 21st Insurance, at

[2] See also “Safe-driving Tips for the Holidays”, Iowa Dept. of Transportation, at

[3] For this and more helpful tips, see “Holiday Traffic Safety Tips”, Nov. 16, 2012, at

[4] See also “Safe-driving Tips for the Holidays”, Iowa Dept. of Transportation, at

[5] This helpful tip and more can be found at “7 Holiday Driving Tips”, November 2012 newsletter, 21st Insurance, at

[6] From “Safe-driving Tips for the Holidays”, Iowa Dept. of Transportation, at