Driving Home for the Holidays? You'll Get There -- Eventually
There's good news and bad news for motorists this holiday season.
America's roads have never been safer, statistics show. But, depending on where you live, they may never be slower.
"The big new trend this year is the construction," said
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal government has spent
According to the
STICKING TO THE ROAD
"The unemployment rate remains relatively high, so it's likely people will be out driving in larger volumes," said
The price of fuel is relatively affordable. AAA expected the national average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline to remain between
Meanwhile, air travel hassles are spurring more Americans to travel by car. In November, the
-- It began enforcing its name matching requirements for airline tickets. Passengers now have to provide their full name as it appears on government-issued ID, date of birth and gender, when they book a flight.
-- The government banned printer cartridges from luggage after a terrorism scare involving cargo.
-- TSA imposed several new screening measures, including an enhanced pat-down protocol for air travelers who opt out of the full-body scanners.
Fortunately, America's roads are safer than ever. But experts warn that we shouldn't take it for granted.
The fatality and injury data for 2009 put the number of highway deaths -- 33,808, or 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled -- at the lowest rate since 1950, according to the
If the trend holds, then the 2010 holiday driving season should be equally safe, experts say.
However, winter holidays are among the deadliest driving holidays. Over the past three years,
PROPER MAINTENANCE IS KEY
Talk of safety may not matter if motorists don't get their cars serviced, warned
"Most of these vehicles were designed to a 50,000 mile, 5-year durability standard," he said. "When you consider average age increase, proper maintenance and upkeep on the vehicle is more critical than ever before."
A recent CarMD.com survey found only half of those who've ever owned or leased a vehicle follow a regularly scheduled automotive maintenance program and one-quarter admits to stretching out time between services to save money. According to the
"Maintaining and replacing the systems on these vehicles as they age is absolutely necessary, and this process is particularly important during the holiday season and cold winter months," he said.
Experts also recommend stocking your smartphone with apps that can help you stay on course during the holidays. Those include navigation systems that pinpoint traffic and let you steer around it (Magellan RoadMate, Navigon's MobileNavigator and
All told, this could be a banner holiday for drivers, both in terms of numbers and in terms of numbers that survive it -- as long as they take a few common sense precautions along the way.
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