KINGMAN – The holidays are a time of year for family, and for plenty of people that means traveling. It’s important to keep safety the top priority as families gear up to hit the road.
“Holidays bring heavier than normal traffic, especially on the popular travel days leading up to and after a holiday,” said Rusty Cooper, deputy chief of Kingman Police Department. “Most crashes are caused by inattention and impatience.”
Cooper also said heavier than normal traffic is a concern on local surface streets as shopping has become a major part of the holidays, which creates increased traffic. Drivers should use added care while driving in parking lots, as they can become more congested with vehicles and pedestrian traffic than normal.
KPD’s mobile command post will be out and about this holiday as part of the Western AZ DUI Task Force operations, Cooper said. Holidays usually see an increase in impaired drivers, as people who drink do not take advantage of sober designated drivers.
“Bottom line is ‘Slow Down, stay off of your cellphone, pay attention to the road!’” Cooper said.
And always wear your seatbelt.
The most important thing to remember is that safety is your top priority. Don’t take chances that could endanger yourself, your passengers or other travelers.
10 travel safety tips from the Arizona Department of Transportation and American Automobile Association
Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive. Also make sure to check the belts and fluid levels before heading out.
Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic. Also, make sure to tell someone the route, destination and projected arrival time.
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
In case of an emergency, keep a cellphone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
Stay patient, don't speed, tailgate or drive aggressively.
Take a break if you’re feeling fatigued or need to stretch. If you have to pull over, move your vehicle as far away as possible from travel lanes. If you pull over or exit for a break, avoid parking your vehicle on dry grass and driving through tall grass. Hot vehicle parts can spark a brush fire.
Expect the unexpected; know that you could encounter delays because of bad weather, heavy traffic or roadway incidents.
Pack the necessities. Anytime you travel in Arizona, be sure to bring extra drinking water. You should also have a fully charged cellphone and emergency travel kit with essential tools. A full list of items to include in the travel kit can be found at www.azdot.gov.
For families traveling with pets:
Always secure pets in the vehicle. You can use a seatbelt designed especially for your pet or a well-ventilated carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around comfortably.
Leash your pet before you open any vehicle doors.
Keep pets away from open windows while you’re driving and when you stop; tragically, pets can jump from vehicles and cause a crash, suffer serious injuries or run away.
Be sure your pet has current identification and is current on vaccinations.
Bring some of your pet’s regular food, drinking water and any medications he or she regularly takes just in case you’re delayed by weather, car trouble or another roadway incident.
Talk to your veterinarian about pets and car sickness; it’s not uncommon for dogs, cats and other pets to get motion sick. Your veterinarian might be able to prescribe medication or offer other solutions, making the long drive more enjoyable for everyone in our vehicle.