Holiday Travel Safety Tips for NYC

Car on road in winter day

If 2016 mimics 2015, then about 100 million Americans will be traveling for the holidays this year. (However, that number will likely be lower, since gas prices are higher than last year.) Drivers in New York City already know just how awful traffic is on a day-to-day basis. When it’s time for seemingly everyone in the city to hit the road to see family and friends, it’s almost like they forget how to operate a car. Chaos erupts, in the form of miles-long traffic jams and plenty of rear-end collisions scattered throughout.

According to the City of New York, the worst days for holiday traveling this year will be:

  • Wednesday, December 21
  • Thursday, December 22
  • Friday, December 23

Unfortunately, you may be stuck traveling these days as well. Even if you’re just heading to LaGuardia, it can be easy to lose your temper while you’re sitting in traffic. Flared tempers can lead to driving aggressively and causing an accident, or at the very least getting a traffic ticket. Follow these safety tips to make sure you and those around you get to their destination safely, even if slowly.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Holiday travel is not the time to conveniently “forget” when you can and can’t pass traffic in front of you. Obeying traffic laws is more important in heavy congestion than nearly any other time. Do your best to leave yourself ample cushion time so you don’t have to break the law to get to your destination on time. If you need to let your loved ones know you’ll be late, use a hands-free device to do so — or run the risk of getting a ticket for using your cellphone.

With the Polar Vortex already settling in over New York, the roads are likely going to be covered with ice, snow and/or slush. If a new snowstorm hits while you’re driving, conditions can become downright deadly. Driving too fast for conditions is one of the top-cited causes for accidents by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Though it’s aggravating being forced to drive so painfully slowly, having control of your car at 15 miles per hour is much better than losing control at 50 mph.

Be Prepared to Drive

Before you set out for the holidays, especially if you are driving more than 50 miles, make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. Check your tires to make sure they still have a good tread, and check your fluid levels. If you don’t have a full tank of gas, fill up before taking to the highway. Also check the weather before you go. If a storm is on the way, wait it out, if possible. If not, be sure to pack an emergency kit with food, water and other supplies just in case you get stranded on the road.

Though this should be a no-brainer, it’s worth saying that traveling after a holiday party is not an excuse to drink and drive. New York has severe laws on the books when it comes to impaired driving, and there’s a good chance you’ll get caught. If you’ve had one (or three) too many, the only thing that will help you sober up is time. On a side note, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, especially in winter weather when everything is white and gray. Make sure you are well-rested before hitting the road, and on longer trips, take frequent breaks.

Though holiday travel can be daunting, challenging and downright aggravating, it is, unfortunately, a necessary part of life sometimes. By following these tips, you can make sure you get to your destination safely — and without a ticket. If you do receive a traffic ticket in New York City, you have legal options that don’t always include paying the fine. Contact the attorneys at Feifer & Greenberg today for a free consultation.