Record numbers of Americans are expected to hit the road this holiday season. Couple that with the inevitable bad weather and overbearing traffic enforcement, and we thought it made sense to provide this holiday travel checklist—NMA style.
Be Prepared: Pack a roadside safety kit in case you find yourself stranded, especially in bad weather. Pick one up premade or put together your own with a few basic hand tools, jumper cables, flashlight, tire inflator, blankets, first aid kit, etc. Check here for a full list of recommended items.
Plan Ahead Part 1: Staying safe means anticipating road hazards. Check www.speedtrap.org and www.roadblock.org before you leave to see where to expect stepped-up enforcement along your journey. Beyond speeding, police will be working overtime (thanks to federal grants) looking for things like seat belt violations, DUI and distracted driving infractions.
Plan Ahead Part 2: Speaking of distracted driving, cell phone and texting laws vary widely. What is permissible in one state will result in an expensive ticket in another. Check here to get an idea of the laws in the states you plan to visit.
Weather the Storm: Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and ready for the conditions. Check things like the battery, tires, fluid levels, wiper blades, etc. Here’s a full list.
Take a Deep Breath: Heavy traffic, bad weather and the stresses of the holidays bring out the worst in drivers. Be patient on the road, leave plenty of space between your vehicle and others and …
Spread Some Holiday Cheer: Practice Lane Courtesy and make everyone’s trip a little more enjoyable.
Have a Contingency Plan: Despite your planning and diligence, you still find yourself along the side of the road with a cop looking to fill his federal grant-driven holiday enforcement quota (oops … performance measure). What do you do? Look here for some great tips on how to minimize the damage and get back on your way as soon as possible.
Speak Up: Using the phrases “Am I free to leave now?” and “Am I being detained?” during a traffic stop or roadblock could extract you from further harassment. Also, by exercising your civil rights you can protect yourself should the situation turn more serious and lead to future court proceedings.
Hide the Presents: If you’ve got presents in your vehicle, keep them out of sight. You don’t want any Grinches stealing your Christmas, especially if you’re traveling to New Haven, Connecticut, where police have been stealing valuables from unlocked cars, just to teach their owners a lesson. No kidding.
Go Cashless: Civil forfeiture is always a danger, and the cops will look for any excuse to pick your pocket, even if you’re only carrying a few hundred bucks. Carry as little cash as possible.
Give Back: Consider a year-end donation to the NMA Foundation, which may be tax deductible.
Finish up your Holiday Shopping: Giving a NMA gift membership to someone on your list is easy, inexpensive and always appreciated. Call us at 1-800-882-2785.