Tips for safe Thanksgiving road trips from Drive Smart Georgia

Tips for safe Thanksgiving road trips from Drive Smart Georgia

When it comes to Thanksgiving travel, “USA Today” pointed out on Nov. 15, it’s important to “pack a happy attitude and create a happy zone around you.” More than 46 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend.  Of those millions of road travelers, nearly 90% will get from point A to point B by car. The Thanksgiving travel period in 2015 begins on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and ends on Sunday, Nov. 29. Automobile transportation remains the most popular mode, with 90% of travelers opting to hit the road as opposed to flying. That means that close to 40 million people will be traveling on America’s highways this Thanksgiving. The average round trip car distance is 600 miles in 2015.

As posted by Conde Nast Traveler and Waze, the community-based mobile app that tracks traffic trends around the world, the best day to hit the highways is Thanksgiving Day itself. Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, plus the Sunday after, will be the worst days to drive to or from Grandma’s house.

If you’re one of the 40 million people getting behind the wheel this Thanksgiving, be aware that driving may be difficult with packed roads and bumper-to-bumper traffic. Plus, weather conditions may be less than ideal. Before loading up the car and heading out, the experts Drive Smart Georgia recommend the following road tips for safe Thanksgiving travel.

Practice safe driving.
Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and don’t forget to buckle up. Observe the speed limit, be well rested and alert, don’t follow cars too closely, and make frequent stops or rotate drivers.

Limit the distractions.
One of the most dangerous distractions is using your cell phone while driving. Give the phone to a passenger and let them do the talking, or wait until you make a travel stop for gas or to use the restroom and make your calls then.

Make sure your vehicle is road ready.
If it’s time for an oil change, make sure to get one before heading out on a long Thanksgiving car trip. Also, check the pressure in all four tires and make sure the windshield fluid is full. Give your vehicle the once over, or have it checked out by a local and trustworthy mechanic. It’s absolutely no fun being stranded in an auto shop in a strange locale. Plus, many are closed, so the ones that are open are likely to charge a pretty penny for any repairs.

Avoid the most congested highways.
Navigating the highways presents challenges during the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Traffic can choke heavily traveled routes, like the I-95 corridor on the East Coast, adding hours to generally speedy trips. Try to avoid the busiest highways, especially on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday.

Plan your route, and a Plan B too.
Map out your route beforehand, but make sure you have a GPS, smartphone or a map in the car in case a road is blocked. If this happens along your journey, activate Plan B to avoid unnecessary delays.

Be aware of changing weather.
November weather can be tricky at times. While it’s sunny and warm in one place, it can be bitterly cold with snow or ice in another. If you’re traveling to a colder climate, be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.

Pack smart.
Traveling families often take along a lot of extra baggage. Make sure you don’t weigh your vehicle down too much. For any excess items that won’t fit in the trunk, a rooftop carrier is a good option, but be sure everything is tied down securely.

Amuse the kids.
Nothing can distract a parent driver more than a carload of cranky, bored children. iPods, coloring books and crayons, picture books, magnetic board games can all help pass the time. Make sure everything is within easy reach. Don’t forget to load up pillows and blankets. Sleeping children are quiet children.

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