With the holiday season upon up, individuals and families across Northern California are looking forward to all the festivities that this time of year brings: Thanksgiving feasts, baking at home, decorating the Christmas tree, lighting candles during Hanukkah, and spending quality time with loved ones near and far.
Unfortunately, with the holidays and more people on the road comes an increased number of motor vehicle accidents. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make your travel safer. We provide eight tips below to help reduce your risk of a car crash during this time of year:
Prep Your Vehicle for Long Distance Travel.
Vacations are supposed to be fun, but nothing can damper holiday plans like a car breakdown, especially if it’s in an area you are not familiar with. Remember that safe driving begins before you even get on the road. Ensure that your vehicle is properly maintained and prepped for a long-distance road trip by double-checking the fluid levels, tires, battery, windshield wipers, and headlights and taillights. Fill up your gas tank before you start your trip, too!
Plan Your Route Ahead of Time.
Plan the route you will be taking ahead of time so you aren’t having to fumble with your GPS while driving, as this can be a driving distraction and cause you to swerve or hit the car in front of you. Have a passenger periodically check for any car accidents, road construction, or road closures up ahead in case you need to reroute. Additionally, be sure to check the local weather reports so you are aware of any adverse weather conditions you will be driving through.
Reduce Your Speed and Increase Your Buffer.
With everyone traveling at once, roads are often more congested during the holiday season. For this reason, make sure that you reduce your speed and increase the buffer between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This way, you have adequate time to brake and avoid hitting the vehicle in front of you should road conditions change instantaneously. Be patient and remind yourself that it’s not a race. It’s better to get to your destination safely than not at all.
Adjust to Hazardous Road Conditions.
While Chico doesn’t really get any snowfall, the area does get more rain during the winter months. Driving in the rain can negatively impact your vehicle’s safety and performance because of reduced traction to the ground and hindered visibility. It’s important that you always adjust to adverse weather or hazardous road conditions by reducing your speed, increasing your buffer, and using your low beams. If it’s a heavy downpour, you may want to hold off on traveling.
Avoid Driving While Fatigued.
Everyone gets tired behind the wheel at one point or another, especially during the winter season when days are shorter and nights are longer. But it’s important that you recognize when you are better off not driving. For instance, if you are repeatedly yawning, nodding off, or noticing your eyes going out of focus, you should either pull off the road to take a quick power nap, get a hotel room for the night, or have another person in your vehicle take a shift driving.
Eliminate All Driving Distractions.
It’s easy to get distracted during the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season, but remember that distractions that are present while driving can pose a safety hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend you avoid anything that takes your hands off of the wheel (manual distractions), your eyes off the road (visual distractions), or your mind off of the task of driving (cognitive distractions).
The number one most dangerous driving distraction is your cell phone, so make sure to turn it off and put it out of sight so you aren’t tempted to use it when you see a text come through. Remember, you should only ever use your phone while driving if you are making an emergency call to law enforcement, the fire department, or other emergency services.
Never Drive While Under the Influence.
For many people, holiday parties are synonymous with alcoholic beverages. Sadly, this often leads to more drunk driving-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the road. If you plan on drinking at a place where you are not staying for the night, make sure to designate a sober driver or call a rideshare vehicle/taxi for transportation. Here’s a rule of thumb that can help you avoid drunk driving: if you feel differently, you will drive differently.
Make Sure Everyone Is Buckled Up.
Lastly, before you begin driving, always make sure that you and all of your passengers are buckled up. Wearing a seatbelt is one of the safest, most effective ways to stay safe, as seat belts that are used properly can reduce the risk of fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants by 45%. If you have infants or young children that you are traveling with, you will also want to make sure that they are secured in a properly fitted car seat or booster seat.
We’re Here If You Need Us
All of us at Peters, Habib, McKenna, Juhl-Rhodes & Cardoza, LLP hope that these tips help you and your family stay safe and celebrate a memorable holiday with your friends and family! However, even if you take all of the precautions necessary behind the wheel, we recognize that accidents can still happen due to other negligent, careless, or downright reckless drivers.
When you are dealing with the effects of a life-altering accident, you deserve to be properly represented by a team of experienced and skillful legal advocates. Our Chico car accident attorneys have been assisting clients in our local communities for over 100 years and will work hard to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation.
Contact our team at (530) 342-3593 to get started with a free, personalized case review today! We will help you explore all legal options available to you.