It’s that time of year again, driving home for Christmas! With so many people driving on the same roads at once, it can be dangerous. Here are some helpful tips to avoid common hazards and have a safe drive:
Defensive driving involves anticipating major risks and potential hazards and driving in a way that keeps you and your passengers safe and secure based on the road conditions.
Essentially, try to anticipate other driver’s mistakes and try not to make any yourself.
Use your headlights
Make sure you are using your headlights to make yourself more visible, especially at night. Try driving with one hand on the wheel and looking over your shoulder for approaching cars when you need to change lanes or slow down quickly.
Keep an eye out for animals
Watch out for deer crossing the road as they are attracted by Christmas lights on houses in rural areas! Keep an eye out for signs indicating significant animal activity in the area and reduce speed when approaching these areas.
Give yourself more time
Leave earlier than usual to avoid driving home during rush hour. If you have the option, leave a day early and stay with friends or family overnight rather than driving through the night.
Keep your car maintained
Keep up with oil changes and such so you don’t break down in a bad situation. The last thing you want is to be stuck out in the snow somewhere, so stay on top of things.
Be aware of environmental hazards
Depending on the state you are driving in, roads can get very hazardous during the winter. Be wary of driving through heavy snow or ice. If the weather forecast is telling you that the roads are going to be very dangerous, it might be worth canceling your trip.
We appreciate that it’s going to be a massive disappointment around Christmas time, but it’s better than an accident.
Be well-rested before driving home for the holidays
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and don’t forget to eat breakfast! Eating cereal in the car while driving is not a great idea, so be prepared with food that will keep you going until lunchtime; it could save your life.
Don’t drive when you’re upset
Just don’t do it. If there’s some reason that driving home for Christmas makes you really anxious and emotional, it might be a good idea to find alternative transport or stay where you are until the situation has calmed down.
Driving while angry is very dangerous; even more so around this time of year.
Invest in all-season tires
All-season tires are more robust and offer better grip in poor road conditions than regular summer tires. Winter driving can be difficult and you don’t want to be caught out by icy roads or snowfall, so make sure your all-season tires are up to scratch before heading home for Christmas.
Stay calm in a skid
When the roads are icy, there is always a chance your car is going to skid. This is where driving defensively, and having the right mindset comes into play.
If you feel yourself starting to skid, ease off on your gas pedal a bit if you’re in a lower gear or brake gradually if it’s too late for that.
Press down on the clutch and turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. As you start to straighten up, steer along the road.
We understand that the temptation is to slam your foot on the brakes in this situation, but try to avoid doing this. Braking hard can cause your wheels to lock up, reducing the amount of control you have.
Pack winter essentials
If the worst does happen and you find yourself stuck on an icy road, it’s important to know what you can do.
Make sure you have an emergency kit that includes road flares, warm winter clothing, food, drink, and a spare charged mobile phone or charged battery pack so you can contact a tow truck or the emergency services.
Also, if possible turn on your low beams or flashers to let other drivers see where you are in the road and so they don’t hit you while trying not to hit a patch of ice themselves.
If you need to conserve the battery for heat, use your road flares instead.
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