The summer months and holidays are a great time for family, togetherness, and traveling. The months of November and December specifically see the heaviest traffic of the year, with hundreds of thousands of people crossing state lines and hitting highways to converge for the season.
From 2006 to 2015, 558 people in South Carolina died in traffic accidents on major holidays, according to a recent South Carolina collision study. If your family is going on the road during peak times, like the holiday season in the Palmetto State, you should use these tips to stay safe.
1. Visit your local auto shop
Vehicle readiness is imperative to the safety of your family on a road trip. Take your car in for a tune-up and maintenance check before you embark. Make sure the mechanics check your tire pressure, tire tread, fluid levels, windshield wipers, belts, battery, and air conditioner.
Tell your mechanic where you’ll be traveling – how far, and what the weather will be like. The shop may recommend swapping your oil to one with a lower viscosity to move more easily through your engine in cold winter weather.
2. Keep your car weather ready
It’s important to keep your vehicle ready for any type of weather. In the summer, keep your tires properly inflated, ensure that your car battery is up to par and able to handle extreme temperatures and make sure your air conditioning is in working order.
During the winter months, you can take measures to winterize your vehicle and drive confidently through snow and ice. Refreshing your coolant is important for preventing engine freezes at low temperatures. If you anticipate driving through snow, make sure you have chains or all-weather tires.
3. Avoid the heaviest traffic
It may be impossible to completely avoid traffic during holiday or summertime travel, but you can at least avoid driving through the thick of it with a bit of research. Learn about where you’ll be traveling to, as well as the average traffic conditions on the roads and highways you will take to get there.
Most big cities experience heaviest traffic volumes, with cars and commercial trucks alike, during two “rush hour” peaks each day – 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 4:00-8:00 p.m. Do your best to avoid driving on major throughways, like I-26, during these times of day, or stop to rest during these hours to wait out traffic.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Drowsy driving rates tend to increase during the holiday seasons, as there are more drivers taking on longer than usual hours behind the wheel, or driving at odd times such as trying to make a drive overnight. Before you start your holiday road trip, make sure you (or the driver) get plenty of rest.
If the driver isn’t comfortable with nighttime driving, arrange to stop at a hotel or switch drivers as the sun goes down. Leave the front passenger seat for an awake passenger, only letting people sleep in the backseat. This can help keep the driver awake.
5. Pack an emergency kit
Nothing is scarier than your car breaking down during a South Carolina snowstorm. Always have a fully stocked emergency kit in your vehicle for holiday trips, just in case. Pack a space blanket, nonperishable food items, bottled water, flashlight, basic vehicle tools, spare tire, battery-powered radio, extra phone charger, bag of sand, shovel, and ice scraper. A good emergency kit can mean all the difference if you and your family get stuck on the side of the road in the snow. Enjoy the holidays in safety this year with these driving tips.
The U.S. roads can be riddled with hazardous elements and/or situations, and these multiply exponentially if you factor in bad weather or increases in vehicles on the roads. One of the best ways to ensure that you and your family is safe on the roads is to plan ahead. If your vehicle is up-to par, and you plan mentally for the journey, you can have a better chance of having a safe trip. So be sure to follow these important safety tips, and have a fun trip!
This article was written in collaboration with the Charleston car accident attorneys at The Hawkins Law Firm located in South Carolina.