5 Holiday Safety Travel Tips for New Drivers
While getting your driver’s license exciting, driving long distances when you’re new to the road can be daunting. If you’re taking a road trip to visit friends and family this holiday season, it’s a good idea to prepare ahead of time and to educate yourself about how to stay safe when driving. These five simple travel tips for new drivers can help you and other drivers stay safe on the road and help you to avoid a car crash.
1. Plan Your Route
Know where you’re going. You can plan your trip by using Google Maps or other online services for directions. It’s important to check whether there is construction in certain areas in case you need to take an alternate route. Getting lost can be frustrating, and heavy holiday traffic or dangerous road conditions can cause anxiety and be a huge distraction, especially when you are trying to figure out how to get where you’re headed.
2. Get Plenty of Sleep
Drowsy driving is a common cause for auto accidents. Making sure you get adequate sleep the night before your trip can help keep everyone safer on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it can lead to driver inattention and distraction, slow reaction time and hinder your ability to make good decisions. As a new driver, it’s even more important to stay attentive and alert. You can avoid driver fatigue by taking frequent breaks during longer road trips. Stop and stretch every two hours or 100 miles. When you stop to stretch your legs, practice safe parking techniques to help avoid accidents.
3. Give Your Car a Checkup
Whether you’re traveling 100 miles or 1,000, it’s essential to make sure your vehicle is running properly. Check all fluid levels (especially oil and transmission fluid), tire pressure, lights and windshield wipers before hitting the road during the holidays. Check your spare tire and jack to make sure both are in working order. If you’re due for an oil change, get one before you leave and ask them to check your battery for any potential issues as well.
4. Prepare for Inclement Weather
Rain, snow, sleet, black ice and other dangerous conditions can throw a wrench in your travel plans. If you’re a new driver or aren’t used to driving in these conditions, take it slow and obey all of the rules of the road. Put together a roadside emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, warm blankets, road flares, jumper cables, oil, coolant, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a small tool kit. Cat litter, sand and tire chains also are handy during the cold winter months to help with traction if you encounter icy roads.
Keeping a working cell phone and charger close at hand also is a must. If the weather doesn’t cooperate and things do get hairy, stay calm and try your best not to lose your cool on the road. Be cautious of aggressive drivers and drive safely at your own pace. Here are a few other tips for staying out of auto accidents.
5. Don’t Drink and Drive
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 29 people in the United States are killed in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes every day. Drinking alcohol can have a deadly impact on your ability to safely arrive at your destination.
Alcohol slows reaction time, affects your vision and concentration coordination, as well as hinders your ability to make rational decisions. It also can reduce your ability to judge your car’s position and you distance to other vehicles on the road. Skip that alcoholic drink or plan ahead by using a designated driver.
Whether you are a seasoned driver or new to the road, these travel tips can help make your trip more enjoyable and get you to your destination safely. For more valuable travel tips on staying safe on the road as a new driver, check out this handy road trip checklist by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) for driving during the holiday season. Asking friends and family for travel tips they use when driving during the holidays also can be helpful.
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