The American Automobile Association is expecting the 2018 holiday travel season to be the busiest since 2005—about 4.8 percent busier than last year. In Southern California, the bumper-to-bumper traffic that starts around 4pm on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving gets increasingly hectic as shoppers and travelers hit the freeways, and this situation continues until early January.
Drivers who expect to go on highway trips this holiday season should expect not only heavier traffic but also more accidents and frantic drivers rushing to shopping districts, parties, and vacation destinations. This is a good time for drivers to review basic safety guidelines before hitting the highway.
1. Do a Safety Check Before Getting on the Road
Taking a little time to plan the trip ahead can go a long way in terms of reaching your destination safely. Use Google Maps or Waze to monitor the road and traffic conditions along your route. Make sure to identify the spots where you can stop for refueling, resting, or recharging (if you drive an electric vehicle). Pack your driver’s license and auto insurance policy, contact information for your loved ones, and a first aid kit, water, and snacks. Don’t forget to check your tire pressure and essential fluids such as oil and coolant, and remember to pack your smartphone battery charger, cash, and prescription medications.
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2. Use the Scanning Technique
Tunnel vision is something you want to avoid when driving on the highway, and the best way to do so is by applying the scanning technique, which consists of looking about 10 car lengths ahead, glancing to the right and left after checking the side-view mirrors, directing your attention to the rearview mirror every 10 seconds, and keeping in mind where the blind spot of your car is more prominent.
3. Pay Attention to Merging
Proper merging always requires adjusting your speed. Merging into the flow of traffic means accelerating. Allowing others to merge means slowing down before resuming a safe speed. Passing others on the right should be avoided because this is bound to put you in another driver’s blind spot. Using your turn signals is a must when merging and passing.
4. Watch Out for Stopped Vehicles
You’ll likely see more cars and drivers stopped on the side of the highway during the holiday season, and this will include a higher number of police and emergency vehicles. If you’re using the scanning technique, you’ll be able to spot them from a distance, thereby giving you time to change lanes and give them space.
5. Prevent Distracted Driving
Modern infotainment systems are designed to keep distracted driving to a minimum. If your car isn’t equipped with one of these systems, resist the temptation to mount your smartphone on the dashboard and launch multiple apps. Mobile solutions that enable hands-free management of text messages, emails, voice calls, and audio streams are highly recommended. Android Auto is recommended if your smartphone or car’s infotainment unit supports it.
If you’re heading out on the highway with millions of fellow travelers this holiday season, make sure to use caution, be alert, and follow safe driving methods so you and your family enjoy the holiday in comfort. San Diego drivers who need affordable, reliable auto insurance should call Altra Insurance Services today at (800) 719-9972 for a free quote. We also offer motorcycle insurance, National City vehicle owner prefer buying, as well as homeowners and renters insurance.