The holiday season officially begins on Thanksgiving and with it comes some of the busiest times of the year to be on the road. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel (defined as travel to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) is by cars. During the six-day Thanksgiving travel period, long-distance trips increase by half. Throughout this holiday season, motor vehicle safety is impacted by last-minute shoppers, social visits and unpredictable weather conditions.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy of Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers the following tips to ensure you and your loved ones remain safe while driving during this busy holiday season.
Before You Hit the Road
• Make sure that your car is well-equipped for travel. Check the tire tread, battery, antifreeze, windows and brakes. Also check that you have a jack and lug wrench, and that your spare tire is properly inflated.
• Allow extra time in your schedule.
• Have a cell phone with you in case of emergencies.
• Avoid driving during late night hours. There is an increased incidence of drunk driving during this time, especially on weekends.
• Keep a safety kit in your vehicle that includes a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, first-aid kit, water, non-perishable food items, matches, blankets, and flares or other warning devices. You should also include an ice scraper, small shovel and a bag of sand or kitty litter in case you get stuck in the snow.
Tips for the Road
• Wear a seat belt. In 2006 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 15,415 lives, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
• Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving after drinking alcohol. Schedule your trip to avoid driving during normal sleep hours. Plan for at least a 15-minute rest stop every two hours. Limit driving to 350 miles per day or no more than eight hours on the road to avoid drowsy driving.
• Don’t stop in under-populated areas to ask directions. Travel well-lighted and busy streets whenever possible.
• If you have a flat tire or other car problems, pull over to the side of the road and out of the way of traffic.
• Drive responsibly. This includes obeying speed limits. As a car’s speed increases, so does the distance required to stop, the risk of a crash, and the likelihood that a crash will be severe.
• Listen while driving. Snow can soften the sound of approaching vehicles.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research as its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, advocacy and advances in clinical care. In recognition of CIRP's valuable research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently named the Center for Injury Research and Policy as one of 13 centers in the United States to be designated as an Injury Control Research Center. Learn more about The Center for Injury Research and Policy at http://www.injurycenter.org.