Wintertime is here again. The snow is on the ground, the temperatures are lower, the days are shorter, and water has started to freeze. We as humans seem to forget that when these changes occur, we have to adjust the way we travel. The driving conditions are a lot different in the wintertime than in the summertime. As the snow falls, the roads get wet. If the temperatures get to 30 degrees or lower, then that wet road is going to start to freeze, too. Even if the wet road isn’t frozen, it could still be slick, especially once the sun sets or if the wind has been/is blowing. The holiday season is upon us, and that means there are going to be lots of people traveling in these winter conditions. As you and your loved ones travel, keep my top-five tips in mind to help you and your family get together safely:
1- First and foremost, SLOW DOWN!! From personal experience, this is one of the most important things you can do. It only takes a second to lose control of your vehicle, but if you’re driving slow enough, your chances of regaining control are a lot better. Be sure to pay attention to your surrounding vehicles so that if they are speeding, you can be aware and prepare to slow down or pull over to let them go around.
2- Allow yourself more time to get to your destination. Being late not only offsets your day, but also everyone else's, making for a long, stressful, and busy day for everyone. So instead of causing a chain reaction of people being late, leave at least ten minutes earlier than you normally would. By doing so, you allow for any delays that may occur so that you can still arrive to your destination on time without being tempted to speed and causing any accidents.
3- It’s obvious that in the wintertime you’re going to want the heater on in your vehicle, but you don’t want to get overheated. If you get too hot you tend to sweat, and if you have to get out of your vehicle with wet clothes on, you’re more apt to catch a cold and get sick. In order to avoid this, set your heater on a medium heat instead of straight hot, and set the fan to blow either on the floor and defrost or straight on defrost—that will keep you from getting too hot inside your vehicle while still keeping the inside temperature warm and comfortable. Also it helps to dress in layers—if you start to feel warm, take a layer off before you get too hot. You can always put it back on later if you get a little chilly.
4- Always make sure your vehicle is prepared for the worst. It’s best to always have your vehicle ready for emergency situations. Keep your vehicle stocked with extra coats or a couple blankets, a sealed emergency can with food and water and any other emergency supplies that can come in handy (and a can opener taped to the can so that you can open it), and a mini first aid kit. You should also make sure you have jumper cables in case your vehicle’s battery dies, a cell phone charger for your vehicle in case your cell phone dies, a red flag or small towel just in case you need to get another vehicles attention or become a hazard and need to make sure other vehicles notice you.
5- When traveling long distances, be sure to tell someone where you are going and roughly how long you expect to take to get there. If you end up having to stop or get delayed for more than a half hour, make sure that while you are stopped you check in to let that person know what’s going on. NEVER TEXT AND DRIVE!!! EVER!!!!! In fact, STAY OFF THE PHONE COMPLETELY WHILE YOUR VEHICLE IS IN DRIVE!! If you are traveling alone and need to check in, take a minute to stop safely and make your call or send your text, otherwise have someone else that is in your vehicle do it for you.
Life goes by fast enough as it is!! So much of that time is spent working and doing chores and other duties that keep us from what really matters—spending time with our family and loved ones. That little bit of time we allow ourselves to be with the ones that mean the most should be well spent and cherished! So make sure you and your loved ones travel safely and cautiously at all times, and have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
Contributed by Angelia Kunz