For most people, the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend is more than a three-day holiday. It’s a chance to gather with family and friends to welcome what many folks regard as the best time of year: autumn.
While the COVID-19 pandemic affected how we would usually celebrate, many folks are now getting back to making plans for travelling and visiting family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner.
If you’re travelling over the Thanksgiving weekend, there are two things you can count on: traffic and a heavy police presence on the roads. Officers will be watching out for drivers who are impaired, distracted, driving aggressively, or not wearing their seatbelts.
Thanksgiving road trip checklist
If you’re gearing up for a road trip this holiday weekend, be sure to plan for the drive with these safe driving tips:
- Prepare your vehicle for the drive ahead. Top up your car’s windshield wiper fluid, ensure that your tires are properly inflated, and remember to travel with an emergency roadside safety kit.
- Make sure you’ve got all your car-related documents handy. No matter where you’re travelling this weekend, your car insurance coverage will be a saving grace should something go wrong. Ensure you have your driver’s licence, car insurance documents, vehicle ownership and registration with you.
- Buckle up. Wearing a seatbelt saves lives. Strap in and make sure everyone in the car does, too.
- Be patient. You will likely encounter traffic along the way. Take your time. Don’t drive aggressively and avoid speeding or tailgating. Drive defensively by leaving a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you, and always signal before changing lanes or making a turn. You’re heading out to enjoy time with loved ones. Enjoy the drive, too.
- Monitor weather reports. If there’s rain in the forecast (or worse), adjust your driving to fit the conditions. Foul weather and poor visibility require you to drive at a slower speed than the posted limit. Posted speed limits designate the fastest speed at which you can safely travel in optimal road conditions. When roads and the weather are not optimal, slow down. Also, be aware of traffic reports before you leave and be prepared to take detours if need be.
- Map out less travelled routes. Major highways are everyone’s route of choice on long weekends, so why not try some of the smaller highways? In addition to less traffic, you’ll also be treated to some beautiful scenery as the leaves begin to change colour.
- Stretch your legs. If your drive is a long one, budget time on your road trip for at least one rest stop to stretch your legs.
- Watch for emergency vehicles. If there is a collision up ahead of you, give emergency personnel the space they need. Slow down and move over when passing police, ambulance, fire trucks, or tow trucks with flashing lights on; it’s the law and comes with hefty fines, if ignored.
- Don’t drive distracted. Distracted driving is hazardous. Put your mobile phone on “Do Not Disturb,” let your passengers select the music, and if you get peckish, eat at a rest stop.
- Don’t drive tired. Driver fatigue can result in poor driving decisions. If you’re tired, let someone else take the wheel or park the car and take a nap before hitting the road.
- Don’t drive impaired. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve consumed alcohol or cannabis. Always have a designated driver ready if you intend to take part in either.
Unfortunately, all long weekends must come to an end. Don’t forget to plan and prepare for your journey back home as well. Follow these safe driving trips to have a safe, stress-free, and enjoyable drive. Happy Thanksgiving!
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