Earth Gauge Tip of the Week — Thanksgiving Travel

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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According to AAA, more than 43 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — and 90 percent will travel by car.  Increased traveling distance and unpredictable weather can result in hazardous driving conditions at this time of year. Here, get tips for safe and efficient travel, whether your destination is near or far.

Stay Safe on the Roads

  • Get a check-up.  Check tire pressure when tires are cold and adjust as necessary (don’t forget the spare!), replace worn or broken wiper blades, add freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid if needed, and check battery connections and cables. If your car battery is more than three years old, you may want a professional to test it.
  • Build an emergency kit.  Make sure your car is equipped with a scraper, flashlight, blankets, cell phones, booster cables and emergency flares or cones. Have water and non-perishable food like energy or granola bars on hand, too. 
  • Slow down. Allow yourself at least eight to ten seconds of stopping time — even longer if driving on ice.
  • Stop before you talk. If you need to use your cell phone, pull into a parking area or to the side of the road before making the call.
  • Be ready for rain. During periods of heavy rain, reduce your speed and put on your car’s hazard lights so that other drivers can see you more easily. If it is difficult to see through heavy rain, pull over and wait for the storm to pass.

Save Gas

  • Carpool. The average distance traveled over Thanksgiving is 588 miles. If you have friends and family nearby that are going to the same place, travel together to save gas and reduce the number of cars on the road.
  • Go easy on the gas pedal. Accelerate gradually to get better gas mileage.
  • Don’t idle. If you stop to eat or stretch your legs, turn the car completely off. Idling for two minutes uses the same amount of gas used to drive one mile!
  • Pack lightly. Extra weight in the car or trunk decreases fuel efficiency.

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(Sources: AAA. “2012 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast“, “Five Things AAA Says Drivers Should Do Before Thanksgiving Road Trips.”; Research and Innovative Technology Administration. “U.S. Holiday Travel.”; Iowa DOT. “Safe-driving tips for the holidays.”; Environmental Protection Agency. “Tips to Save Gas and Improve Mileage.”; Green Your. “Avoid Car Idling.”)