Car News

Long Holiday Driving Tips

As Thanksgiving approaches, there are certainly a lot of things to be thankful for. A fun family road trip is one of them.

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author photo by Autotrader November 2016

As Thanksgiving approaches, there are certainly a lot of things to be thankful for. But congested holiday traffic is not one of them. Each year, more and more people get on the road for the 4-day weekend, with the promise of family, feast and football at the other end of the journey. Last year, AAA reported an estimated 47 million people traveled 50 or more miles from home on Turkey Day. This year, that number could be the same or higher. So how do you stay safe and sane as you embark upon the Great American road trip this Thanksgiving? Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get ready to make the long drive this holiday season.

Ready your vehicle. Make sure it's maintained and in good shape. Check your tire pressure, oil and coolant. And if it's dirty, give it a good cleaning inside and out. Riding in a clean car is always a more enjoyable experience for the family.

Preset your navigation. Set your destination in your navigation well before your departure. This will be one less thing to worry about when you're loading up the car last minute to get on the road in a timely manner.

All systems go. If your car is equipped with various driver-assistance systems (forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind spot montoring, rear cross-traffic alert), make sure they're all turned on to help make your journey the safest it can be.

Check the weather report and road conditions before you depart. For those living in colder climates, check the weather forecast before you hit the road. You don't want to be caught off guard by a winter storm or road closures in the middle of your road trip. The Federal Highway Administration's website is an excellent resource -- www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/index.htm. But there are a number of other reliable traffic and weather sites you can visit for information.

Be equipped for winter storms. Be ready for potential snow or ice. Thanksgiving is often the first winter-driving weekend for those up north. To prepare, equip your vehicle with blankets, booster cables, flares, a flashlight, hand warmers and a window scraper.

Bring an extra charger for your cell phone. You never know when you're going to run low on power. Keep an extra charger in the car. You'll be glad you did, especially in the event of an emergency.

Talk safe. Don't 'talk and drive' on your mobile unless you're doing it hands-free or while pulled over safely on the highway.

Wear seatbelts. Make sure everyone in the car is properly wearing seatbelts, even if you're in a larger vehicle such as a van or RV.

Take regular breaks. That's what rest areas are for. Stop at least once every two hours and more frequently if it's snowing, as falling snow can have a hypnotic effect. The same goes for night driving. Taking breaks reduces fatigue and tunnel vision on the highway.

Watch your speed. Driving too fast to cut travel time is especially risky when highways are packed with holiday traffic. It's just not worth it. Plus, state police will be out in full force to catch rule breakers.

Don't drink and drive! This one's a no-brainer. Just don't do it. No matter what.

Try not to overeat. Eating too much can make you tired during the drive back home. Especially turkey, which contains a natural sedative called L-tryptophan.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Long Holiday Driving Tips - Autotrader