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Staying Safe This Holiday Season

Steve Wagner

Road trips are, for many, a favorite holiday pastime. Even with the enjoyment of the holidays, the excitement of the changing weather and approaching vacation-time, those holiday road-trips all too often turn into holiday mishaps.

Inclement weather, drivers distracted by fussy kids, excess traffic on the highways, and over-tired drivers are all major factors in holiday accidents. Here are a few ways you can avoid motor-vehicle mayhem this holiday and keep your family safe:

  • Staying safe in bad weather: Most of this preparation needs to take place before you hit the road. Checking and refilling all of your fluids, rotating your tires (or getting new tires if your treads are worn thin), planning out gas stops (never let your gas tank get below a quarter of a tank in cold weather) and packing an emergency preparedness kit (water, blankets, cold-weather gear, snacks, shovel, road salt, flashlights, etc.) will help ensure you stay safe and warm on your trip. When you are driving, make sure you respect the speed limits and even allow yourself extra time to drive a little more slowly than usual. Keep your lights on at all times, double check before changing lanes, and if you have little ones, make sure you do your research on car seat safety. Car seats misuse (early forward facing, twisted straps, added accessories, chest clip out of position, seats past expiration date, and having children in the wrong type of seats) leads to severe injuries in infants and children. In fact, it’s estimated that 73% of car seats are installed incorrectly.
  • Eliminating distractions: It is always hard to eliminate 100% of distractions on a road trip, but making sure the kids are secure and happy is a great place to start. We recommend taking lots of entertainment for the little ones so they don’t get bored and fussy too quickly. Making frequent stops can help keep the kids fresh and happy. Other ways to eliminate distractions:
    • Have a passenger who can navigate for you so you aren’t distracted by using a GPS or phone navigation system.
    • Keep your radio (or other electronic devices) turned down low so they don’t overpower the noise of the traffic outside.
  • Avoiding excess traffic: While this may be impossible depending on what roads you’re taking, it might be worth researching some alternate routes in case traffic gets stopped. Satellite apps on smart phones can help you look ahead to view the traffic and weather situations, so tell your navigator to always look ahead for traffic jams!
  • Get your rest: Always allow yourself plenty of time to rest before a big road trip! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that around 100,000 accidents are caused each year as a direct result of tired driving. Another estimate says that 49% of those accidents result in serious injury or death. Studies have also shown that driving tired is statistically as dangerous as driving drunk, although there is no test to determine how tired a driver is. As a driver, you have to be responsible for making sure you are well rested before a trip. If needed, it is okay to pull over or stop for the night and reach your destination at a later date. Arriving late is better than not arriving at all.
  • The lawyers and staff at Wagner Reese wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season! Enjoy the time with your families and remember to follow these tips to keep everyone warm, dry and accident-free this winter!

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