Highway safety officials urge drivers to use caution during busy winter, holiday travel period

Highway safety officials urge drivers to use caution during busy winter, holiday travel period

Georgia motorists should plan ahead and keep vehicles winter-ready
Heading over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s this year? Before you take off, make sure you’ve got your bases covered. Stock the car with an emergency kit, keep up with regular vehicle maintenance and do one last walk around the car before you put it in drive.

“We focus a lot on reminding folks to drive sober, buckle up and limit distractions behind the wheel,” said Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood. “All of those things are incredibly important, but making sure you’re riding in a safe vehicle is really step No. 1.”

The holiday season is a great time to visit loved ones, but cold and icy weather can pose dangerous threats to your travel plans. Whether you’re heading out for a quick trip to the store or a long drive to see out-of-town relatives, walk around your vehicle to inspect your tires and make sure there aren’t any immediate hazards that could cause trouble later.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration suggests drivers check weather, road conditions and traffic before they depart for road travel. NHTSA also recommends drivers keep their vehicles stocked with emergency supplies (jumper cables, flashlight, cell phone charger, water, ice scraper, blankets and emergency markers).

“If you’re traveling for the holidays, be prepared for any situation,” Blackwood said. “Use cargo nets to secure any packages you bring along. If you’re involved in a crash, a loose package can quickly become a dangerous projectile in your vehicle.”

On long trips, it’s also easy to get tired behind the wheel. Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Coffee and stimulants should not be used as a replacement for rest. Drivers covering long distances should get plenty of rest before setting out and plan ahead for breaks or hotel stays to avoid being sleepy behind the wheel.

“We want everyone to make it home for the holidays this year,” Blackwood said. “Buckling up, driving sober and being prepared for any roadside emergencies are all easy things in our control that can prevent crashes. Last year, we lost 1,199 people on Georgia roads. Let’s do everything we can to make it fewer this year.”

Visit NHTSA’s website (http://tinyurl.com/klnuzv5) for more winter driving tips.
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