The holidays are a time for getting together with family and friends. Since the cost and hassle of airline travel is going up, many people will be driving to their destinations for the holidays. In addition, shopping also puts more people on the roads during this time of year. Here are some hints to help you prevent or avoid travel disasters.
1. MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE: Get a tune up and oil change shortly before you hit the road. Delays due to preventable mechanical failures can be avoided. Check the tire pressure in your tires. Be sure your spare tire is also in good shape.
2. HAVE ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE: Since there is always a possibility of the unexpected happening, be sure you have road assistance service or auto club membership current and effective. Have your card handy with your membership number and emergency phone numbers.
3. AVOID CONGESTION: Consider traveling during “off times” such as very early morning or later in the day to avoid the more congested times. Always check your route and be sure you are not going to go through a major city during a local rush hour. If you can plan your trip so that you are traveling on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, it may be safer. According to the National Motorists Association, those are the safest days of the week to travel. In fact, over the last 10 years, here are the average number of crashes per year based on the day of the week:
1. Saturday — 6,826 crashes per year
2. Sunday — 6,007 crashes per year
3. Friday — 5,865 crashes per year
4. Thursday — 4,767 crashes per year
5. Monday — 4,603 crashes per year
6. Wednesday — 4,508 crashes per year
7. Tuesday — 4,455 crashes per year
4. PLAN FOR CHILDREN: If you have kids, be sure to pack plenty of things to keep them amused! Many of the newer vehicle models have video screens to show movies. Bring games, snacks, and music to help keep them occupied and less inclined to repeatedly ask, “Are we there yet?”
5. BE RELAXED AND RESTED: Don’t drive when you’re tired. Be sure to get a good night sleep before your trip, and if possible, don’t start your trip after a long day at work. Always be on the alert during holiday time as people are often rushing around doing last minute errands, and not paying full time and attention to the road.
6. LIMIT ALCOHOL & DRIVE DEFENSIVELY: There are always an abundance of parties around the holidays, so if you are driving at night, be on high alert for possible drunk drivers. Be a defensive driver, and you’ll get to your destination safely! According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), deaths from drinking and driving spike around the holidays, with alcohol being blamed for about 52% of fatal collisions on Christmas and 57% on New Years compared to a rate of 41% for the entire year.  In addition to the more than 1,200 alcohol-related deaths that will occur on the road this holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 25,000 people will be injured. Please take precautions as indicated above, and think safety. We all want to have a wonderful, safe holiday season.
 Statistics appear at https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ah4UMbYJFSCJdHFiM3ZVdGI1TEZQX3hDSVZrdlFQUlE&hl=en#gid=0 and are from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx.
 Statistics from http://www.pcnr.com/news/2003-12-24/General_Stories/032.html