For many of us, the most wonderful time of the year includes traveling to spend time with loved ones. If part of your holiday season requires travel, The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to take a few precautions before hitting the road.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 91 percent of holiday travel is conducted by personal vehicle. The average distance traveled during the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year's Day holiday period is 245 miles.
More people on the road and an increased chance for hazardous road conditions means taking a few additional precautions.
Before loading up the family, make sure the car is in good shape and you're prepared for bad weather. Check the weather ahead of time, and don't allow your vehicle's gas tank to get too low. It's also a good idea to call a friend or family member to check in along the way.
The BBB also recommends taking these steps for safe driving this holiday season:
Create a car safety kit – holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can prepare for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods such as granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper and warm gloves.
Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained – Breaking down on the side of the road can definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. If your car is due for a check, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car's fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires and, if you plan on driving through serious winter weather, consider getting snow tires.
Take the Better Business Bureau with you – When you're away from home or in the midst of an emergency, it's hard to know which businesses — such as tow trucks and locksmiths — you can trust, especially if you're in unfamiliar territory. The good news is you can rely on BBB's mobile optimized website for finding businesses you can trust when you're away from home.
Start early and slow down – The best way to fight holiday traffic is to give yourself some extra time to make the trip so that you don't feel rushed. Speeding not only increases your chances of having an accident, but if you're caught speeding by law enforcement, it increases your travel time and puts a dent in your holiday spending.
Drop the distractions – According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of accidents happen when people are talking on their cell phone or sending text messages. When you're behind the wheel, don't text and drive, use a hands free headset when talking on the phone and get someone else to fumble with the GPS.
For more advice on staying safe this holiday season, visit us online at bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, please call the BBB hotline at (903)581-8373.