The winter Holiday season is already here, which means that millions of Americans will soon hit the road to see family or visit a destination. Unfortunately, the steep rise in Holiday traffic means that the likelihood of a serious car accident or truck accident rises astronomically.
AAA predicts that 48.5 million Americans will travel by car this Thanksgiving, and that 107.3 million people traveled for Christmas and other year-end Holidays in 2017. Data from the Insurance Information Institute (III) also shows that nearly 700 people died in car accidents on Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends in 2015.
In response to these dangers, Holiday travelers should be prepared for emergency situations that can come up during their trip. Whether they have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere or a serious car accident that leads to injury, families that have a plan can reduce their risk of even worse outcomes.
Based on our past cases and personal experiences, here are 12 essential action items our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers recommend to reduce your chances of a crisis during your upcoming Holiday road trips.
As the owner of your vehicle, you are the primary person in charge of its condition. You can use this position to proactively give your vehicle a quick check-over in your driveway.
Take a look at tire tread life using the penny test, and check that the tire pressure falls within the range recommended in your owner’s manual. Don’t forget your spare!
You can also evaluate your engine oil levels and quality using your dipstick. Eyeball all other fluid levels under the hood, and keep an eye out for warning signs like frayed belts. If you aren’t familiar with your vehicle’s parts and systems, you can always bring it into your make’s local dealership for an inspection, tune up, and fluid top off.
When it comes to prepping for a trip, there’s no time like the present. Use a free moment you have in the weekend before the trip to bring your vehicle into your preferred service station or dealer maintenance department so you can take care of needed tasks.
For instance, if your brake pads might need replacing or your oil might need changing within the next 2,000 or so miles, it can be a great idea to go ahead and do that now. Putting off needed maintenance increases the chance that something can go seriously wrong during your trip. You will want your brakes and other vehicle systems ready just in case you find yourself in a scary situation on the interstate.
We know that nearly every person on the planet carries a smartphone these days, but you can always depend on a piece of paper if technology happens to fail you. Having a set of printed directions, preferably with a map, can help you know your bearings even if your battery dies or your wireless signal dips out.
You can also study the directions a bit beforehand so that you can recognize road names and important turns without having to glance at your phone while driving. Fewer distractions and a bit of redundancy always helps! Besides, you can always let one of your younger passengers play navigator to help pass the time.
Your vehicle’s emergency kit should be fairly well stocked before you take a long trip. Include jumper cables, road flares or reflectors, tire changing tools, a spare tire, and a battery charger (if you have one). Your emergency kit can also include a recently charged power bank in case your phone dies or your charge cord gives out at the worst possible time.
In addition to these supplies, include a first aid kit as well as some blankets, non-perishable snacks, and at least a gallon of clean water.
Even though we all have cell phones handy, it still wouldn’t hurt to tell a friend, neighbor, or family member when and where you intend to travel. Should anything happen during your trip, these individuals can supply vital information to help track you down.
You can also get a neighbor who’s sticking around to keep an eye on your house while you’re gone. Break-ins tend to spike during heavy travel times, after all.
Florida law doesn’t restrict cell phone use while driving, but distracted driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving in many instances. If you can, put your phone in a hands-free dash mount and connect it to your Bluetooth system. Otherwise, you may need to designate your spouse or another passenger to be your official phone keeper for the trip.
Note that in some states like Georgia it’s illegal to use your phone outside of approved mounts. Be sure to research hands-free laws for any state you’ll be traveling to or through.
You can never predict the weather down south, so make sure each family member has enough warm jackets, sweaters, and socks to get them through an unexpected cold snap. Carrying along extra pillows and blankets can also ensure your trip is just as cozy as home.
Storms, accidents, rain, and road closures can all force you to alter your travel plans. Have alternate routes in mind just in case an incident like these forces you to reconsider your original plan.
A clean car is not only easier to pack, it’s safer for the family. With less clutter, they can locate emergency supplies more quickly or exit the vehicle more easily.
You should also always start your trip off with a full tank of gas. The best part of this strategy is you can choose the cheapest place in town to fill your tank before being at the mercy of highway prices.
Avoid having suitcases and other hard objects in the passenger areas if at all possible. You should also avoid packing the vehicle so full that it obscures your rear-facing view.
Sleep deprivation is just as dangerous as drunk driving, so make a plan to help you get at least eight hours of uninterrupted rest before you plan on driving. You should also start your trip on a full stomach so you can have a clear head.
Your last order of business before you pull out of the driveway is to make sure that every passenger is buckled in — no exceptions! Make sure that any younger passengers are in an age appropriate car seat or booster seat.
Sometimes even the best laid plans can result in a car accident through no fault of your own.
If you or someone in your family was injured in a car accident this Holiday season, know that you can rely on experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers from Steinger, Greene & Feiner to take up your case and help you pursue fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Contact us today if you have been in an accident and think you have a potential personal injury case, and you’ll receive a free case evaluation.
Drive safe, be prepared, and have a happy Holidays!