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December 23, 1999

Holiday Driving Safety Tips

Make sure you're prepared.

Troy, MI (SafetyAlerts) - Many Americans take to the highways this time of year to visit family and friends that live far away.  The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year on the nations highways.  It is also a time for hazardous weather and driving conditions.

Snow, rain, sleet and ice are always possible this time of year.  The best way to ensure your safety and the safety of those who travel with you is to ask yourself a few simple safety questions before you leave the house.

Do you have all that you need?
Not only the gifts and suitcases and snacks for the trip, but also safety gear.   Is the jack in the car?  Do I have air in the spare tire?  Also flares, brightly colored rags and even some duck tape can come in handy if you break down on the road.  If you have a cellular phone - take it with you - just in case.

Even if you don't plan on eating on the way or if you plan to stop for food, bring along some snacks.  If you get stranded it could take quite a while for help to arrive.  During really bad storms it could take all night.  Have some food available that will stay good for a long time.  Crackers, peanut butter, canned goods (make sure you have an opener) and other non-perishables can make the waiting easier and your body needs the energy to stay warm.

Do you have warm enough clothing and spare blankets?
Since many people will be in a warm heated car for these long trips we often don't think of having warm clothing readily available.  But if you have a flat, or get stuck in the snow you may need these items close at hand.   A jacket, gloves, hat, and boots are essential on a winter day.

Spare blankets or sleeping bags in your car can be a life saver if you get stuck in the snow.  The gas will only last so long and during really bad weather it may take hours for help or assistance to arrive.

Do you have winter gear in your vehicle?
An ice scraper and snow brush for uncovering your car, and a shovel might be needed for digging out of snow banks.

Is your vehicle ready for winter?

  • How's the tread on your vehicles' tires?
  • When was the last time you checked the   antifreeze in your radiator?
  • Is the windshield washer reservoir full?
  • Will the heater and defroster clear icy and fogged windows?
  • Do you have enough gas just in case you get stuck in slow moving traffic for a while?  Make sure you stop for gas early.  It is much better to stop often for gas and have it if you need it than to get stuck in the cold and snow with only a few drops in the tank.

Before taking off make sure each passenger is properly buckled up - either in a seat belt or a size-appropriate child restraint.

The best advice for driving during snowy and icy conditions is to USE CAUTION!

Warm up the car so the defroster has a chance to clear the windows.  Clear ice and snow from your vehicle (including the roof) for improved visibility and for the safety of motorists sharing the road with you.

Match your speed to the road conditions.  Don't try to pass or weave in and out of traffic.

Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.  Pay attention to what other drivers are doing.  You can't stop quickly on snowy and/or icy roads.

There is a difference in the way that regular brakes and ABS brakes need to be used and the way they work. Familiarize yourself with the braking systems of the vehicles you drive BEFORE you need to try to make a quick stop.

Remember that bridges and ramps freeze before road surfaces.

Above all, use common sense!

As much as we all wish to spend the holidays with our loved ones, sometimes it is just to dangerous to drive.  Leave early and allow extra time.  If you run into really bad weather, stop!  It's better to spend the night safely in a hotel and arrive a few hours late than not to get there at all.   'Gottagetthereitis' has been the cause of many accidents and injuries.

Selected Recent Recalls

Health Professional:

Did you know?
During 2000 there were over
1050 products recalled in the United
States for safety reasons!

How many did you hear about?

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