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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2006

Safe travels lead to final destinations

By Staff Sgt. Lindsey Maurice 12 Flying Training Wing

With the holiday season upon us, more and more motorists are taking to the road venturing to shopping malls for the perfect gifts and traveling long distances to visit family and friends.

But as the number of people on the road increases, so does the number of traffic accidents.

For this reason, the 12th Flying Training Wing safety office encourages motorists to be extra careful while traveling this holiday season and to keep some important suggestions in mind when out on the roads.

"People need to remember they are carrying the most precious cargo of all with them in the car - their family," said Linda Howlett of the 12th FTW safety office. "That's why it's so important to make smart choices such as obeying the speed limits, taking rest breaks, and so on."

According to the American Society of Travel Agents, the first step to ensure a smooth car ride is to keep your vehicle in good working condition. Before traveling long distances, motorists should have a qualified mechanic check all of their vehicle's vitals including the brakes, battery, fluid levels, tire pressure, light bulbs and other parts that require regular maintenance.

It is also important for motorists to have emergency equipment with them. With the low winter temperatures, certain items could prove vital if stranded on the side of the road, according to the Travel Sense Web site. These items include a first-aid kit, flashlight, blankets, fresh water and snacks, flares and jumper cables. An ice scraper could also prove to be helpful in the colder temperatures.

The next important step to a road trip is planning, said Ms. Howlett.
"People make poor choices when they're pressed for time," she said. "That's why it's very important to plan your itinerary; building in frequent rest breaks and making sure you have enough time to safely reach your destination."

The ASTA suggests drivers take an extra day off and avoid traveling the two days leading up to and after Christmas, as the roads are even more congested those days.

It is also important for drivers to get plenty of rest the night before traveling and if possible have a second driver to alternate with in case one gets drowsy, said ASTA.

To help combat drowsiness, the Travel Sense Web site also suggests those traveling with families sing songs or play games to help pass the time.

With the roads so congested during the holiday season, the ASTA asks drivers to have more patience than usual and be weary of road rage. Motorists should work with fellow drivers by using their signals during lane changes and turns and give other drivers plenty of room, said ATSA officials.

The ASTA suggests there be a car length's distance between vehicles for every 10 miles per hour the vehicles are traveling to allow enough distance for sudden breaking.

Finally, the ASTA suggests travelers not leave valuables in their vehicles unattended and place holiday packages in their trunks to make their property less appealing to robbers.
For more holiday traveling tips and information, contact the 12th FTW safety office at 652-1842.