Holiday travel can be stressful under the best circumstances, but winter weather can make the drive dangerous. If you’ll be hitting the highways en route to a snowy destination this season, you’ll want to make sure you stay safe and avoid putting others at risk.
Increased traffic volume and distracted holiday drivers can make traveling in wintry weather conditions even more treacherous. To stay safe, the Red Cross suggests planning ahead and expecting delays.
Holiday travel tips
Here’s what drivers can do to make their holiday journey a safe one, according to the Red Cross.
Check the forecast. Know what type of weather you’re likely to encounter on your trip, and plan your drive accordingly.
Drive carefully. Have everyone in the car buckle up. Don’t speed or drive impaired, and make sure to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Be rested and stay alert. Drowsy driving can be dangerous. Stop and rest when you need to, or consider sharing the driving.
Follow the rules of the road. To reduce your risk of an accident, obey speed limits, traffic laws, signs, and regulations.
Don't drive distracted. Your full attention should be on the road while driving, not divided between the road and a cell phone.
Make sure your car is in good condition. Before departing, check your lights and make sure your windows are clean. Having clear visibility is important, especially if you’ll be driving at night.
Pack an emergency kit. Having an emergency supply kit in the trunk can be helpful if you get stranded.
Driving in winter weather
If winter weather hits, road conditions are likely to become dangerous. To avoid risking your safety (and the safety of other drivers around you), the Red Cross recommends pulling off the road.
After you have pulled off the road as far as possible, stay with your vehicle. Do not try to walk to safety. What should you do if your car is stuck in the snow? The organization recommends tying a red or bright colored cloth to your antenna so you are visible to first responders.
Additionally, the Red Cross offers the following tips for drivers in an emergency situation:
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
- Keep one window slightly open -- away from the blowing wind -- to let in air.