Whether traveling cross country to grandmother’s house or just to the other side of town for holiday celebrations, the first step to enjoying time with friends and family is ensuring safe arrival at your destination.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has some tips to help holiday travelers stay safe, which include consideration of existing highway work zone restrictions and incident delays. To view an interactive map of current road conditions and additional information, go to http://www.az511.gov/traffic/ or dial 511.
While there may be some existing highway work zone restrictions through the end of the year, ADOT will not schedule full closures for construction or maintenance between Dec. 21 and Jan. 2.
Winter Travel Kit
Don’t get caught unaware.
Unexpected delays can occur due to crashes, disabled vehicles and weather. According to ADOT, motorists traveling during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays should:
• Pack extra drinking water and snacks
• Avoid the busiest travel times, if possible
• Get plenty of rest before driving – drowsy driving is unsafe
• Never drive while impaired – arrange for a designated driver or ride service
• Check vehicles, including tire pressure, engine belts and fluid levels
• If traveling to the high country, pack an emergency preparation kit in your vehicle that includes cold-weather clothes and
“Drivers should be prepared for any existing highway work zone restrictions, be patient and obey speed limits, since speeding is a leading cause of crashes,” ADOT wrote in a press release.
Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper of the Kingman Police Department said locally, crashes are most often attributed to two things: inattention and the absence of patience.
“You can attribute just about every crash, whether it’s private property or on the roadway, to those things,” Cooper said.
He added that these days, one major culprit that leads to inattentive drivers is the cellphone.
“We encourage someone to use a hands free device if they have to talk on a phone while driving,” Cooper said.
On the notion of patience, Cooper also spoke to road rage. Being angry at another motorist while on the road can cause drivers to force themselves into lanes, or vice versa, meaning drivers not letting another vehicle merge. Patience, he said, can help combat that mentality.
“Always be watching out for the other driver,” he said. “None of us like to think it’s our fault, so let’s at least pay attention to the other driver. If we’re all doing that, then everybody is that other driver.”
He urged motorists to practice the “spirit of the season” by implementing the attitude of “goodwill towards men.”
ADOT also said that unexpected delays occur because of crashes, disabled vehicles and inclement weather, but offered tips to help drivers mitigate those potential issues.
Motorists should: pack extra drinking water and snacks; avoid the busiest travel times if possible, ensure they’re well-rested before hitting the road; and never drive while impaired. ADOT said drowsy driving is unsafe and that instead of driving impaired, motorists should utilize designated drivers or ride services.
And there are additional safety considerations for travelers making their way to areas of the state or country experiencing a white Christmas. ADOT recommends packing an emergency preparation kit that should include clothes appropriate for colder weather and blankets. Travelers should also plan travel routes in advance, and notify someone of the travel route, destination and expected arrival time.
Aside from one’s person, vehicles should also be made ready for wintery conditions. Before leaving the driveway, vehicle owners should ensure their mode of transportation is ready for travel by checking the battery, ignition, exhaust system, thermostat, defroster, heater, brakes, wiper blades and solvent, and headlights and taillights.
Drivers should check their vehicles’ tire pressure, engine belts and all fluid levels.
Gas tanks should also be kept three-quarters full, as running out of gas can be “extremely dangerous during winter conditions.” ADOT writes on its website, https://www.azdot.gov/about/transportation-safety/Weather/know-snow-and-ice.
For those traveling over the river and through the woods for an extended absence from home, KPD offers its property watch program designed for those on vacation or away for the holidays. KPD VIPs, volunteers in policing, will cruise by homes once a day to ensure everything is in order.
“It just gives homeowners some peace of mind,” Cooper said.
Applications for the property watch program are available at the Kingman Police Department, 2730 E. Andy Devine Ave. The office will only be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.