Holiday travel safety, cost-saving tips

If you are planning to drive to your Thanksgiving destination, the best time to hit the road is after 9 p.m. Wednesday and before 11 a.m. Thursday. The main thing experts stress is being prepared in all aspects of your travel this holiday. With more cars out on the road,  the likelihood of crashes increases, especially with emotions running high to due stress and people trying to get places on time.

You’re going to want to leave extra early to account for traffic and any other things that might delay you and your family, as being in a hurry means more mistakes behind the wheel. You should also make sure your vehicle is prepared and ready to go, especially since a lot of people may have neglected to get maintenance done during the pandemic. Underinflated tires, for instance, can cause tire blowouts that may result in deadly crashes. In 2020 alone, there were more than 3,000 tire-related crashes in Florida, 61 of them deadly.

You can also set a good example by wearing your seatbelt and making sure everyone else does, too. And make sure you’re sober and well-rested before you hit the road.

“The importance of being, again, responsible behind the wheel is that we want you to be able to celebrate with your family, enjoy your family, that’s what the holidays especially are for,” said Lt. Greg Bueno with the Florida Highway Patrol. “As a driver, you are entering roadways that are publicly used and used by all of us, so it’s so important to be sober, no matter what being sober means: that you’re not drunk, that you’re not drugged, that you’re not distracted or you’re not drowsy.”

FHP says it relies on other drivers to spread the word about dangerous or impaired drivers and urges anyone who sees something to call 911 to help get them off the road.

If you are driving to visit family and friends this holiday prepare to spend big bucks at the pump; the average gas price right now is the highest we’ve seen since September 2014, and AAA says drivers are set to see the most expensive prices for Thanksgiving in about eight years.

The average price to fill up at the moment is around $3.35 per gallon. There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, with crude oil prices declining in the past few days, which could enable gas prices to decline through this holiday weekend, but probably not enough to save you much money at the pump.

Experts say there are a few ways to combat this. One is to pay with cash, as some retailers might charge you more for using a card. When in doubt, shop around: A lot of stations will charge a little more if they’re located close to an airport or near an off-ramp. Experts say little things like keeping your vehicle in good shape could be the difference in how much you’re paying.

“If your vehicle is not properly maintained, that could actually impact your vehicle’s fuel economy—things like underinflated tires,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “You also might consider removing excess weight from your vehicle, driving around with all those suitcases in the back seat just makes it harder for your vehicle to run. Maybe as soon as you get to your destination, be sure to unload all those suitcases, because all that excess weight can actually impact your fuel economy.”

If you’d like to find the cheapest gas prices near you, you can also download an app like Gas Buddy, which will give you the lowest prices in your area.

Reporter:Taylor Wirtz
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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