Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends on the road, so planning ahead and being well prepared are essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. To make the most of Labor Day, it pays to know a few things in advance to avoid being stuck on the road on your way back home from a great holiday weekend.
Getting Your Car in Shape
The last thing you want on Labor Day is a car that breaks on the road. A routine check of the engine, radiator and fluids will go a long way. Tires should be well inflated and wiper fluid should be replenished. Also, check that the steering wheel and brakes work properly. A car emergency kit should include, at a minimum, jumper wires, a tire gauge, a flashlight, a tool kit with wrenches and screwdrivers, duct tape, rags and an emergency stop sign. Add a first-aid kit, a bottle of water, a blanket and some energy bars in case something happens and you’re stranded for some time.
There are two major reasons for accidents on highways: losing concentration while driving and ignoring the risk of big trucks. If you are tired, had a drink or feel sick, either give the wheel to somebody else or postpone the driving. This is especially important coming back home on Labor Day, as many spend the day drinking and having fun, and chances are people are tired and moody. Monitor yourself and learn your limits, so you can head to a rest stop if you start feeling dizzy, confused or sleepy. Big trucks are especially dangerous if you cut in front of them quickly and unexpectedly, as trucks cannot brake fast enough to avoid a collision if things get tight. Also, trucks drivers have lots of blind spots, where they are unable to see you and thus avoid you. As a general rule, if you can’t see the truck’s mirror, the driver can’t see you either.
Avoiding the Madness
The most important thing you can do is leave early. Take on the highways early Saturday morning or before rush hour on Friday. If you’re driving on Labor Day, follow the same rules. Most people will brave their return home in the early evening or late afternoon. Try getting to the highways before 4 p.m. or after 10 p.m. and you should be in much better shape. Another important thing you can do to prepare for Labor Day driving is to plan your route well. Look for alternate routes, program your GPS or use a map to get you where you need to go as fast and efficiently as possible. You also can check online to see if the road you’re planning to take is undergoing repairs or has scheduled lane changes, so you can search for alternatives or plan for additional driving time.