With hundreds of thousands of Arizona motorists heading to grandma's house next week, it's important to keep in mind a few tips to ensure a safe, stress-free trip:
• Limit distractions, such as texting, cell phones, grooming and music. According to the National Highway of Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounts for at least 25 percent of all traffic crashes across the country.
• Do not drive drowsy. If the trip will take eight hours or more, schedule rest breaks or drive with a companion who remains awake throughout the trip. Passengers can help look for early warning signs of fatigue and switching drivers may be helpful.
• Let someone know your route and when you will arrive at your destination. Leave a copy of your travel itinerary with a trusted friend or family member at home, as well as someone at your destination. Make sure you alert them of any last-minute changes to your plans in case they need to reach you in an emergency.
• Pack an emergency car care kit that includes at least: flashlight, flares, jumper cables, a small tool kit, duct tape, non-perishable food, water and blankets. Also, be sure to pack a cell phone and car charger and program important phone numbers into your cell phone.
• Conduct a quick car care check up. If traveling in cold weather, make sure an auto repair tech performs a winter check that includes battery, antifreeze, wipers, windshield fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, heater, brakes, tires, defroster and oil.
• Pack smart. Do not over pack your vehicle. Limit any load on top of your vehicle to a maximum of 18 inches high and no more than 100 pounds. Make sure that all cargo is properly secured to prevent it from shifting while in route.
• Check road conditions before you leave. To check road conditions motorists can call ADOT's road condition hotline at 511 or visit their website at www.az511.com.
Linda Gorman is communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or firstname.lastname@example.org.