With more than 99 million motorists expected to use the nation’s highways this holiday season — and only one traveling via flying sleigh — American Trucking Associations and the Share the Road highway safety program want to ensure everyone arrives at their destinations safely by being nice and not naughty on the roads this year.
“Even though reindeer do a great job of navigating the sleigh, drivers should not pretend to be Dasher or Comet when taking to the highways this month,” said professional driver John McKown (UPS Freight). “Safe driving is critical this time of year and there are many steps you can take to prepare for holiday travel. Take a minute to review our list of good highway safety habits before going over the river and through the woods.”
“Winter weather poses many unique challenges to the motoring public and professional truck drivers and we want to remind everyone that the goal should be to arrive safely. That may mean leaving a few minutes early or being extra cautious when facing difficult road conditions,” said professional driver Bill West (ABF Freight).
“Truck drivers are delivering many of the products that play important roles in holiday celebrations, such as decorations, wrapping paper and cookies, so we all must work together to share the road safely in order to have happy holidays.
The Share the Road highway safety program compiled this list of tips for drivers hitting the road this holiday season:
Buckle up: Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45% and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road. If traveling with any small elves, make sure they too are properly secured.
Slow Down: With the extra highway congestion due to holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles and reduce your speed.
Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to insure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don’t allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
Don’t drive impaired: The holidays are often a time for merriment, but if you’ve had too much to drink, please do not get behind the wheel. Many services are available to get you home safely.
Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front so you can avoid snow and ice blowing onto your windshield or maneuver around patches of ice.
Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
Be aware of truck blind spots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving. We will only judge you for using emojis if you are using them while driving.
Plan ahead: Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.
Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods , maps, tire repair kit and flares. Cookies are good, too.
Be aware of changes in weather: Weather conditions across the U.S. will be changing – especially during early mornings and evenings. Watch for ice, snow and other weather related obstacles and be aware of any temperature changes.
Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early so you won’t be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
Avoid extreme weather conditions: Ice, hail and snow make roads difficult to travel. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.
“Trucks move many of the things that make our holidays possible, but not everything,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a video message. “Trucks do not move the family and friends we celebrate with, so on behalf of the millions of professional truck drivers on the road, I urge you to be safe on the highways this holiday season.”