A wintry mix and the holiday rush can lead to a rough road to family and friends. To help drivers of vehicles large and small, the American Trucking Associations and America’s Road Team Captains have 12 tips to help all drivers get where they are headed safely during the holiday season.
“Inclement weather conditions on the road create driving hazards that require extra attention during the winter months,” said Rhonda Hartman of Old Dominion Freight Lines and America’s Road Team captain. “When traffic volumes increase around some of the major travel holidays, it makes driving safely even more difficult. So, as professional truck drivers, we have some tips for you and your family.”
More than 107 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles this holiday season, a 3% increase from 2016, according to AAA, which partners with the ATA’s Our Roads, Our Safety coalition. The high traffic volume can increase the chances of traffic accidents — and winter weather can make it worse.
“As a truck driver, I am one of the last people out on the road helping Santa with his presents during the holiday season,” said Tim Melody of ABF Freight Systems, another America’s Road Team captain “Having an informed motoring public that understands and adjusts to the hazards of winter driving makes my job easier.”
Being acutely aware of the weather conditions and forecast can prevent unexpected circumstances and make for a safer trip. Practicing caution at all times, even when traveling at low speeds on city streets, can prevent property damage and injury.
The ATA also warned of the dangers of impaired driving.
“As a truck driver from the chilly state of Minnesota, I have to be prepared to make quick decisions when confronted with snow, ice and other forms of wintery weather, and I count on the people around me to make quick, safe decisions as well,” said America's Road Team Captain Bill Krouse, of YRC Freight. “It’s important to be constantly aware of your surroundings, the weather and the flow of traffic. We all share the road with families, neighbors, friends and colleagues who are trying to celebrate 2017 and the coming new year, and it is irresponsible to put other people in danger by being neglectful of your duties as a driver.”
- Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to ensure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Do not allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
- Slow Down: Chances of a crash nearly triple when driving faster than surrounding traffic. Skidding becomes more likely at increased speeds, especially on icy roads, or if you are driving a sleigh like Santa.
- Buckle Up: A safety belt will not prevent a collision, but it will save a life.
- Do not drive impaired: Driving is a great responsibility and your fellow travelers are relying on safe, attentive drivers to respectfully share the road and make good decisions. Lay off the eggnog if you plan to drive.
- Avoid impaired drivers: Report drunk drivers to 911 – after safely pulling over – and stay on the line to help locate the suspected vehicle. A call can save lives. Erratic breaking, weaving between lanes, straddling the centerline or taking excessively wide turns can all be signs of impaired driving.
- Be aware of truck blind spots: Trucks deliver all of your favorite holiday traditions. Pass on the left where the truck’s blind spot is much smaller.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents and one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving. Technology gifts are popular during the holiday season, but should not be operated while driving.
- Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them. Consider this while watching the bowl games: fully loaded tractor-trailers can take the length of a football field plus both end zones to make a complete stop. ATA partnered with AAA, the American Bus Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on this recently released video about stopping distances.
- Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Before you head out to see your aunts, uncles and cousins, check your wipers and fluids and have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
- Prepare yourself for long distance travel: The vehicle needs maintenance and the driver needs plenty of rest and hydration to function at his or her best. If you feel drowsy, pull over and wait until you are more alert.
- Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early to reduce anxiety about arriving late. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
- Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead.
The America’s Road Team, sponsored by Volvo Trucks, is a national public outreach program led by a small group of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway. American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.