Most of us will spend at least a few hours during the holidays in the same place we spend much of the work week – in the car. If you’re driving down the street for an ugly Christmas sweater party or across the country to visit your in-laws, use these seven holiday driving tips from Coast Motor Werk to reach your destination safely before the eggnog runs out.
Our Top 7 Driving Tips for the Holidays – Coast Motor Werk
1) Get Your Car Travel-Ready
If you’re planning a long drive during the holiday season, job one is making sure that your car is in good shape to travel. Take your car into your local mechanic and tell them you’re going out of town, and they will check your tire condition and pressure, interior and exterior lights, brakes, battery, oil and fluid levels… all of the details you want to check off before hitting the open road.
2) In Case of Emergency, Open Trunk
Keep emergency essentials in your trunk like a flashlight, road flares, a change of clothes and a first aid kit. If you’re driving somewhere cold (and we mean icy cold, not Southern California cold) consider packing some kitty litter or sand to create traction if you get stuck on an icy surface.
3) Make Your Route Device-Proof
GPS apps on your smartphone are great… as long as your phone is working. But if your route takes you somewhere without a good connection – or your battery runs out – you still need to know how to get to where you’re going.
Dust off your paper maps and put them back in your glove box for your trip. And a printed out version of your itinerary that includes directions will make sure you reach your destination when Siri stops answering your questions.
4) Hit the Brakes and Take a Break
It might seem like a waste of time to stop and rest while you’re driving, but taking breaks from the car will keep you comfortable during your trip. A good rule of thumb during a long drive is to pull over at a rest area or safe turnout every 100 miles or two hours to stretch your legs.
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, 41% of fatal traffic accidents are single vehicle crashes. These crashes typically occur during early mornings or late nights when drivers are tired, under the influence of substances, or both. Make time to get enough sleep the night before you leave, and if more than one driver is in the car, take shifts behind the wheel.
5) Create a Rage-Free Zone
Traffic during road trips is an extra-special kind of frustrating. But the best thing to do when you find yourself stuck on the highway is to relax and find other ways to keep your mind occupied. Fill your iPod or smartphone with music and podcasts to give the non-driving parts of your brain something to do. Driving aggressively will only stress you out and make the trip seem longer – for you and anyone else in the car.
6) Get Your Home Travel-Ready
When you’re focused on an upcoming road trip, the state of your home might be the last thing on your mind. But there a few things you can do to make sure that your home is safe, secure, and not a target for thieves.
Start by making sure that all doors and windows are locked. Add timers to a few lamps or light fixtures so that your home looks occupied at night without burning electricity 24 hours a day. Don’t post the dates you’ll be away on social media, especially in advance. And finally, have a family member or neighbor pick up your mail and check on your home periodically.
7) When in Doubt, Uber
If your holiday plans are closer to home and include late-night parties or alcohol, ensure a sober drive home by assigning a designated driver or using a car service like Uber, Lyft or a taxicab.
You might prefer to drive your BMW or MINI Cooper to that office Christmas party, but everyone at your office would prefer that you get home safely. Paying for a ride home might seem expensive in California traffic, but keep in mind that a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction can cost between $5,000 and $15,000 – which is a lot less expensive than any cab ride.