Holiday Driving Tips

Before loading up those trunks and buckling up seat belts for holiday road trips with family and friends, make sure your car is properly armed and ready for a safe, hassle-free, and smooth ride ahead.

Be sure to review your car insurance policy to ensure that you have the right coverage. It might even be wise to request a new car insurance quote or to purchase an auto club membership that can positively affect car insurance rates and premiums. Important member benefits include roadside assistance, travel discounts, and free maps and guidebooks - all perfect for holiday traveling. There are ways to get cheap car insurance as well, including getting group/company discounts, installing theft devices, purchasing a yearly policy, and checking your mileage.

Give your car a tune-up to make sure it's in good condition for long trips. If you've fallen behind on maintenance, get your car's oil changed before you hit the road. Change the engine oil and filter according to the manufacturer's service intervals and specifications. The service technician should also check the coolant and power steering fluids. Check the air pressure in all tires - tires can lose up to a pound of air pressure every month. Proper inflating your tires can mean the difference between safe driving and tire blowouts or tread separation. Check air conditioning; inspect belts, hoses, wiper blades, batteries, and battery cables. A service professional should inspect the radiator pressure cap. Also, have a licensed brake adjuster inspect your brake pads and linings for wear. Test your car's interior and exterior lights, including turn signals and high beams, to make sure they work. This is also a good time to clean the lenses to get maximum visibility.

Prepare a winter safety kit. Pack up some blankets and winter garments in the car. Bring a portable radio with an extra set of batteries. Also, include flares, a shovel, snacks and bottles of water, flashlights, jumper cables, gloves, and basic car tools (wrenches, ratchet/socket set, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.)

Prepare games and refreshments for your kids. Aside from electronic games, bring books, coloring materials, and toys. Don't forget batteries and chargers for portable game devices.

Drivers and passengers should always buckle up. Obey posted speed limits, be patient, and stay calm. Do not drive when feeling drowsy or tired - include time for breaks or share driving responsibilities. Do not allow distractions such as eating, drinking, and passenger/telephone conversations to interfere with the primary task of driving. Know your travel route ahead of time.

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