With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, many of us are making plans to travel in the next month to go and see friends and family. As fun and exciting as this trip can be, with rain, ice, and snow, conditions can quickly turn dangerous, putting your journey and family at risk. That being said, with a little planning and preparation, the winter weather needn’t stop you from spending the holidays with loved ones. Here are eight safety tips for road trips this winter.
Plan your travel route
During the summer, it’s generally quite safe to choose a direction and drive until you’re where you want to be. However, with weather and road conditions becoming hazardous, it’s vital that you plan a detailed route ahead of time, as well as a few detour options in case a road needs to be closed down. This allows you to let someone know where you’re going and when you should arrive so that, if anything went wrong and you didn’t, they’d know where to look for you.
Get your vehicle ready
Before you set off, you need to make sure that your vehicle can handle the journey. It doesn’t matter whether you have a convertible, compact SUV, or something in between, you should have it looked at by a professional. After all, you don’t want to break down in the middle of nowhere when the weather is so cold. You will also want to install winter tyres to all four of your wheels. This will improve vehicle handling, making it easier to drive safely and avoid accidents.
Pack an emergency kit
Breaking down is never fun, but it’s made so much worse and more dangerous if you do so in the dead of winter without any emergency supplies. With that in mind you should stock your car with essentials to stay safe, warm, and full. This should include medications you might need, bottles of water, some food, and spare batteries for your phone. You should also pack a flashlight, shovel, extra clothing, and a first aid kit, among other crucial items.
Practice winter driving techniques
If you’ve never driven throughout winter before or have very little experience with winter driving, then you shouldn’t use a long road trip as your first practice. Instead, find somewhere free from other cars and people, like an empty car park, and practice winter driving techniques. Once you instinctively use longer stopping distances and know how to steer yourself out of a fishtail, your travels throughout the colder months will be much safer.
Rest up before travelling
With conditions becoming more dangerous, it’s more important than ever that you remain alert while driving. Because of this, you should ensure that you get a good night’s sleep before your big trip. You should also steer clear of alcohol completely and avoid eating or drinking while you drive. Instead, you should pull over when it’s safe, like you should when you answer the phone. Try not to drive at night or too early in the morning so that your passengers are alert too.
Always check the weather
Never leave your home until you’ve checked local weather reports. The conditions around your house may not seem too bad, but a few miles out, the snow, ice, and winds could be treacherous. If conditions seem too risky or local authorities have advised that you don’t travel, then it’s best that you stay at home. There’s no point in risking the lives of you and your family when you could just postpone until the weather clears a little.
Stay in your car
Becoming stranded is a scary experience, especially in winter conditions when there are fewer people around to help. However, it’s vital that you keep calm, stay in your car and wait. Unless there’s someone that can help you within 100 yards, staying in the warm is always your best option. You can step out for a moment to make your car visible to rescuers, but you shouldn’t trek out in search of them. This will only make their job more difficult and put you at risk.
With snow, rain, wind, and ice, the roads are slowly becoming more and more dangerous to drivers. This winter weather can be hazardous, but it shouldn’t stop your holiday travel plans. However, it is important that you take more care with your journeys. Hopefully, with the safety tips and advice above, you can stay safe and have a fun and exciting trip this winter.