Holiday travel tips

December 13, 2011

Adam Pickens, Ph.D.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit with family and friends. If you plan to travel, keep the following tips in mind to make sure your trip is a safe one.

“Before traveling by car, check a few of your vehicle’s primary areas,” says Adam Pickens, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. “If you’re not comfortable doing so, get your vehicle checked by a reliable mechanic.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends inspecting the following before a long trip: the battery for proper voltage, the car’s charging system, all belts and hoses for leaks and connections, the cooling system for a proper mixture of antifreeze-to-water ratio, windshield wipers for

wear, and tires for proper pressure and wear patterns. All of these areas should be in proper working order before beginning a trip as cold weather will magnify any problems in these areas, increasing the likelihood of a breakdown.

“Check your spare tire for proper air pressure, and make sure all of your tire changing equipment is in proper working order,” Dr. Pickens says. “In addition, it is wise to always bring basic survival supplies such as a first aid kit, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable food items to basic tools such as tire pressure gauges, jumper cables, ice scraper, sand, collapsible camping shovel, cell phone and charger, and a working flashlight with extra batteries.”

Dr. Pickens advises you plan your travel route beforehand, let someone know your planned route, and always inform someone when you’re leaving. Bring a GPS should poor weather conditions dictate a route change.

Before you leave, check road conditions on your route. The State of Texas Department of Transportation has a website:

Finally, always remember to never drink and drive, and wear your seat belt on your trip. Your friends and family want to see you arrive safely this holiday season.

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