11/19/12 — Remember these tips for a safe holiday driving season

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Remember these tips for a safe holiday driving season

By John Joyce
Published in News on November 19, 2012 1:46 PM

If sky-high airline prices have your holiday plans grounded, consider driving. Gas prices have remained near constant for more than a week across much of the country, so budgeting time and money should be less difficult than in previous years.

If you are hitting the road, however, AAA and the N.C. State Highway Patrol have some basic highway safety tips for holiday travel season.

When driving in any conditions, no matter the season, always use safety belts and child restraints. Abide by the instructions and safety warnings that come with car seats or booster seats, or consult your vehicle's operator's manual.

As always, do not drink and drive. Aside from family gatherings, the holiday season is a time for office parties and other social get-togethers where alcohol may be served in settings it typically is not. Remember to have a plan, drink responsibly and always designate a driver.

Be prepared to encounter increased traffic on the roads. Students are out of school and home from college, families are traveling to visits relatives, and shoppers are making mad dashes to stores with increased sales and extended operating hours. Plan ahead with alternate routes in mind to avoid traffic tie-ups, and make sure your vehicle's head lights and turn signals are operational.

Cold weather care and managing holiday stresses properly will greatly reduce the risk of vehicular accidents and roadside emergencies.

Follow these additional highway safety tips provided by AAA:

* Avoid driving while you're fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest reduces driving risks.

* Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

* Make certain your tires are properly inflated.

* Never mix radial tires with other tire types.

* Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

* If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.

* Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).

* Always look and steer where you want to go.

* Move your vehicle off the road safely away from traffic.

* Stay inside your vehicle and make sure all passengers stay inside, too. Keep doors locked and only roll down the window enough to ask any passersby to call police.

* If you can't move your vehicle off the road, ask all passengers to exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so, and stand away from traffic.

* If you must walk to a phone, keep your group together.

* Warn other drivers by raising the vehicle's hood, tying a white cloth to a door handle or using reflective triangles or flares.