While North Carolina may not experience punishing winter weather like states further north, we still see our share of wet and cold conditions during the holidays, including, snow, ice, and sleet on the roads. Combined with the extra traffic and added stress as travelers fill the roads to visit friends and family, conditions are ripe for a spike in auto accidents and vehicle breakdowns.
With a little extra caution and some helpful tips in your back pocket, though, you can reduce your risk of having your holidays derailed by a crash or a sudden breakdown. In this article, we’ll provide seven such tips.
Preparation and Defensive Driving Are Keys to Staying Safe During Holiday Road Trips
Before you hit the road for the holidays, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Make sure your vehicle is in good shape. Before you take a long drive (more than an hour or two), you should always give your car a thorough once-over to make sure everything is working properly and all the fluids are topped off.
If you’re not a car person, it’s okay to take your car to a professional mechanic for help. Either way, you’ll want to check all the following:
- Oil (make sure the level is high enough and that you’re not overdue for an oil change.)
- Tire pressure and condition (make sure the treads aren’t excessively worn.)
- Brake fluid
- Washer fluid
- Lights (make sure your headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and brights are all working properly.) In addition, make sure to start your trip with a full tank of gas, and try not to let it fall below half-full if the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help prevent your fuel lines from freezing.
2. Be prepared for an emergency. You need to be ready in case your car breaks down or a crash puts it out of commission. To stay safe and warm until help arrives, make sure you’ve packed the following in your trunk:
- Flashlight (with extra batteries)
- Windshield scraper and brush
- First aid kit
- Waterproof boots
- Rain ponchos
- Drinking water and non-perishable snacks
- Warm blankets
Also, make sure your car has the essential basic tools for changing a flat or jumping a battery: a spare tire, a jack, a tire iron, road flares, and jumper cables.
3. Plan your route in advance and bring a paper map for backup. An old fold-out paper map might seem silly and outdated, but you’ll be glad you have it if you wind up in an area with poor cellular signal. Map apps and in-car GPS systems aren’t perfect, either, and sometimes their directions can be inaccurate or outdated, especially in rural areas.
Also, this should go without saying, but never adjust your GPS system or use smartphone apps while you’re driving. Even taking your eyes off the road for just an instant is enough to put you at serious risk for a crash.
4. Get a good night’s sleep. The holidays are a hectic time for most people, but make sure to carve out time so you can go to bed early and wake up fully rested before a long drive. Driving while drowsy puts you at serious risk for a crash. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown that it’s just as dangerous as driving drunk.
5. Check the weather before you leave. While severe winter storms are not as common in North Carolina, it’s always good to know what to expect. You should especially watch the weather on your route if you’re taking a long trip across state lines.
If you see warnings about especially bad weather, consider delaying your trip. If waiting to leave isn’t an option, make sure to let a few friends or loved ones know about your trip, including your destination, your route, and when you plan to arrive.
6. Follow the speed limit, but use your judgment. Keep in mind that driving at the posted speed limit might be too fast in wet or icy conditions. Take your time, be patient, and don’t be embarrassed to slow down. If other drivers decide to pass you, go ahead and let them. And if you’re feeling impatient to get to your destination and get out of the car, just remind yourself how much better it is to be cruising along safely at 10 miles per hour below the speed limit than waiting on the roadside after a crash.
7. Drive defensively and don’t let yourself get aggravated. Stay aware of your surroundings and be ready to react to poor decisions or losses of control from the drivers around you. Don’t respond to aggressive or reckless drivers in kind. Aggressive driving usually arises from stress, but it just creates more stress. You’ll probably just end up feeling worse if you start getting angry.
Finally, remember to relax and keep yourself from getting too stressed during a holiday road trip. If you start to feel flustered or aggravated, stop driving for a few minutes and let yourself cool back down. When you get back behind the wheel, just breathe and remind yourself that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to holiday driving.
Even the Safest Drivers Can Still Become Car Accident Victims
Unfortunately, even if you follow every safety tip you can find, it’s still possible to find yourself the victim of an auto accident through no fault of your own. If another driver’s negligent behavior or a road hazard led to your crash, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can investigate your case, determine who may have been at fault for your injuries, and advise you about your rights and legal options.
Contact Myers Law Firm for Help if You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Crash in North Carolina
If someone else is at fault for your damaged vehicle or injuries, you deserve justice and compensation for your losses, and the team at Myers Law Firm is here to help. At Myers Law Firm, we use our years of experience and our knowledge of the local courts to fight for justice on behalf of auto accident victims in Mecklenburg County.
We offer free initial consultations for all personal injury cases so we can listen to your story and provide you with expert advice about your best course of action, all at no financial risk to you. To schedule your free consultation and talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer today, please complete our online form or call 888-376-2889.
AAA study finds risks of drowsy driving comparable to drunk driving. (2016, December 6). CBS News. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/aaa-study-drowsy-driving-dangers-comparable-to-drunk-driving/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.