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Be sure to follow these holiday road trip safety tips

November 17, 2015
Traveling during the holidays requires extra safety precautions.

Thinking about car accidents may put a damper on our holiday cheer, but it's important to remember the holiday season can be a dangerous time to be on the road. Traffic will be heavier than usual as more people are traveling to see their families. Holiday stress may increase road rage or distracted driving, and winter weather can make for slippery roads and poor visibility.

"If you're driving through areas of heavy snow or ice, additional preparations may be necessary.”

While none of that should keep you and your family from traveling “over the river and through the woods to grandma's house,” it does mean you should heed a few additional precautions before departing. Remember, safe driving can reduce your car insurance claims and keep your loved ones safer. There are a few safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season:

Plan ahead

Before you embark on your journey, follow AAA recommendations and make sure your car is functioning properly. If you're traveling a long distance, have your car and tires inspected before you leave. Additionally, the organization advised mapping out your route before you hit the road and aiming to drive during hours of lighter traffic, if possible.

If you're driving through areas of heavy snow or ice, additional preparations may be necessary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended paying extra attention to your radiator and windshield wipers. You may consider bringing additional antifreeze or winter-specific windshield-wiper fluid with you. If any of your tires are worn, you should replace them before driving on snow or ice.

Keep your hands on the wheel

Many of us can't go more than a few minutes without checking our phones, but if you're driving you need to resist that temptation. Distracted driving is dangerous for you, your family and others on the road. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated distracting behaviors, like texting while driving, caused 3,154 fatalities and 424,000 injuries in 2013 alone.

"Cellphone conversations are distracting, and using a hands-free device can still pose risk.”

If you must use your phone while on the road, be sure to use a hands-free headset. However, as the National Safety Council pointed out, cellphone conversations are distracting, and using a hands-free device can still pose risk. When driving in challenging conditions like heavy traffic or bad weather, the NSC recommended keeping your hands on the wheel and your mind on the road.

Pack with care

As the Better Business Bureau pointed out, the last thing you want in a car is a flying object. Road trips involve lots of twists, turns and sudden stops, and if you haven't packed your luggage securely you risk breaking your holiday gifts or injuring yourself or your passengers. Plan to spend a few extra minutes securing all your cargo and tying down lighter objects when necessary.

You also want to place any valuable objects out of sight, either by storing them in the trunk or covering them. Leaving pricey items in full display may attract thieves while you're stopped at a gas station or hotel.