Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods…

If your Thanksgiving plans involve any road travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, here are a few tips you may want to take with you as you prepare to make your way safely to Grandma’s House (or anywhere else) for Thanksgiving dinner:

First, and foremost, make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition for the road. This is very essential, whether it’s just a local trip or a cross-Florida trip using Interstate 275 leaving the Tampa Bay area. This includes, among other things:

Checking your car’s fluids including the oil level and the windshield washer fluid.
Checking your vehicle’s spare tire to be sure it’s in good condition in case you need it.
Making sure that you have filled up your fuel tank.
Checking the tire pressure on your tires and making a quick check for any defects.
Making sure that all lights work, including the headlights.
If you have one of those vehicles that has an OnStar system, check to see if it works. (Press the black phone button and you should hear the response, “OnStar Ready”. If you hear that, you are good to go.)
Making sure that your SunPass is topped up, especially if toll roads are part of the trip.

OK. The car is loaded, and your family is on your way to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving. Here are some more tips to get you to Grandma’s safely:

Plan out how you will get there. You can use Google Maps or your favorite map program out there on the Internet.
Get a good night’s rest – you will need it.
Stay within the speed limit – there’s nothing gained by going faster than the flow of traffic.
If you have a handheld cell phone, please don’t use it while driving. Instead, have your passenger handle the cell phone calls for you or, if you are driving alone, wait until you have stopped in a safe place.
Pay attention to the gigantic green signs mounted over the highway, especially when you are approaching a metropolitan area such as the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Pay special attention to the word “Left” in black letters on a yellow background above the exit number sign – this indicates a left exit and you should prepare in advance!
Once you exit Interstate 275 or any other limited access highway, adjust your speed accordingly to the speed limit for the road you have exited onto.
If you have a long road trip to Grandma’s, consider taking a break for every three to four hours of driving. Feel free to stop at a rest area, service plaza, an interstate interchange oasis such as Exit 329 from Interstate 75 (FL 44), or even go into a small town if it’s close by.
Most importantly, don’t drink and drive! Drunk driving: Over the limit = under arrest!
Move over for emergency vehicles!

Now if in the event you break down on your way to Grandma’s, help is just around the corner:

If your vehicle is equipped with OnStar, press the red emergency button and wait for the OnStar operator to answer.
If you have a handheld cell phone, make sure that you are stopped in a safe place and call *347. Also use *347 (that’s *FHP) to report drunk and/or aggressive drivers as well.
If you are on any section of Interstate 75 or on Interstate 275 south of Exit 5 (US 19 South) or north of Exit 53 (Bearss Avenue), you will see motorist aid call boxes. Simply pull the door down, press the button for service, release the door and return to your vehicle.

Most importantly, as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend takes place including the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, area highways including Interstate 275 will be crowded. Just make sure to plan ahead and leave early in order to arrive at your destination in a timely fashion.

As Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season, have a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season! Be careful out there on Interstate 275 and drive safely!