1) Libations and engines don’t mix
Our first tip is a given — not that you should drink and drive any other time of year, but certainly don’t use the holidays as an excuse.
Ontario police and the Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) program will be out on the roads in full force to combat drunk driving this year. If you’re attending a holiday party and plan to indulge in some libations, remember not to drive. Stay the night or plan a safe alternative to get home, like a cab, Uber, a designated driver in your group, or public transit.
2) Check your vehicle maintenance list twice
One of the most common problems travellers face during the holidays are vehicle breakdowns. Whether it’s a frozen-over windshield, slippery roads or a dead battery, getting stuck during a Canadian winter is the last thing you want. To prevent some of these bothers, take your vehicle in for a maintenance check, paying particular attention to your tires, which need to be ready for long drives on icy roads. Read our article on seasonal car maintenance to make sure yours is in tip-top shape to handle the weather.
Organize an emergency kit to keep in the car with a first aid kit, jumper cables, snow brush and flashlight. It never hurts to bring an ice-scraper and traction board for snowy conditions. It always helps to carry extra warm clothes, snacks and an emergency blanket to keep you safe from the cold.
3) Plan ahead for your long-distance getaway
If you’re planning to drive long distances this holiday season, make sure you’re fully prepared. The colder months can bring on the unexpected, so take some time to prepare yourself for anything the season might throw at you.
First, ensure you stock your sleep time, by getting at least seven hours of sleep before your big trip. Try to avoid driving between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, when the body’s natural temperature is lower and drivers are generally drowsier.
You can avoid getting stranded by reading up on the road and snow conditions before you leave through Ontario 511. You should also be aware of all detour routes on your trip itinerary, by visiting the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s website. You can also check your favourite GPS app (like Google Maps or Waze) for updates, and periodically tune in to traffic radio stations like 680 News. Always keep a list of emergency numbers to call, just in case
4) Don’t let thieves run your holiday season
The most tried and true way to prevent car theft is to not attract attention to car. This means removing all valuables, bags and electronics from your car, or keeping them very well-hidden. Even small things like loose change, hood ornaments or your GPS system are targets like you wouldn’t believe.
Lock your doors and windows, and consider installing anti-theft security systems, such as tinted windows and loud alarms. Also, be alert for signs of car thieves. If you’re concerned, report your suspicions to the police.