As holiday travelers get on the road, think safety first

Nov 21, 2012

Rural road in Nebraska
Credit KBIA

The National Safety Council estimates that more than 400 traffic fatalities will occur during the holiday period starting today and continuing through Sunday night.  

 Each year, the National Safety Council issues its grim estimates for holiday traffic fatalities, and each year, its remarkably close to reality.  To improve your chances of safe travel, there are a few precautions you can take. Nigel Holderby is a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, Southern Missouri Region. She says safe travel involves some prep-work. “It’s always a time when you need to think about what you have in your car before you leave," she says. "And making sure your vehicle is good, working order before you head out is always a good idea, to make sure you don’t get stranded somewhere.". Start out with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure, and make sure your windshield fluid is full and that your wipers work well. Clean your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights, and windows. “Make sure you’re rested before you leave, as well," says Holderby. "A lot of times, we have so much going on and we forget to make sure we sleep. But making sure that you’re rested will keep you alert on the road." And that’s all before your travel. If you’re traveling by road, don’t use your cell phone or music distractions. And if you’re on a longer road trip, rotate drivers. Falling asleep at the wheel is a common cause of traffic accidents. “Not to try to drive straight through is probably one of the biggest things. So give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, and make a few stops along the way," says Holderby. Leave plenty of space between your car and the next vehicle, and turn your headlights on just as dusk approaches. For those people traveling by air, bus or train, keep in mind that pretty much everything you touch has been touched by someone else—so wash your hands often or carry hand sanitizer.  Bring your own pillows and blankets, and avoid touching your face or eyes.