Have you noticed an uptick in cars on the roads during this time of the year? Even though this year may be somewhat different, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still expect some nasty traffic if you plan to venture out during the holiday season. But instead of feeling Grinch-y about it, use our tips for driving safely to your destination.  

Why are roads so busy?

Road trips are the most dominant form of travel during holiday time, and that trend will continue in 2020, with travel by car making up 95% of holiday traffic. As well, more people will be out running last-minute holiday errands, putting more and more cars on city streets. Finally, we’ll still see an influx of snowbirds out on the roads, pandemic or not. 

Here are six driving tips to stay safe during heavy holiday traffic. 

Avoid peak travel times

The two days prior to Christmas and the day after Christmas are usually some of the absolute busiest days on the roadways. This year, that day falls on a Saturday, so it’s possible that the people who travel to get somewhere for Christmas will use that day or the following day (December 26-27) to get home — clogging up the roadways. 

Plan ahead

Whether you’re heading out for a long road trip or you’re just going out for some local holiday shopping, be prepared to encounter traffic. Know your route and give yourself extra time to get to wherever you’re going. If traveling longer distances, check with AZDOT.gov to learn about any road closures, construction restrictions on travel, or other road travel advisories. This kind of advanced preparation will help you minimize high-traffic zones, and knowing you’re prepared will alleviate traffic-induced pressure and stress that can lead to unsafe driving. 

Keep calm

It’s human nature to get flustered when traffic is nuts, but a big part of safe driving has to do with teaching yourself to stay composed and even-keeled, no matter the circumstances. Even when other drivers conduct maneuvers that are less than considerate, just let it go. You’ll feel better, drive better, and won’t risk potentially dangerous road-rage situations. 

Be focused

Yes, you should always be focused behind the wheel, and this is particularly the case when there is a higher volume of cars on the road, such as at holiday time. Do your part to minimize distractions: No texting while driving; no fumbling with your music, GPS or maps apps; and make sure your passengers (including your little ones, if they are traveling with you) are buckled and have what they need before you hit the road. 

Drive defensively

Defensive driving involves several skills that help you prevent or avoid a crash. When driving in heavy traffic, these skills become even more important. These include: always scanning for traffic and road conditions; being aware of vehicles that are driving erratically, using your signal, and allowing plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. 

Never drive impaired

And don’t let others do so, either. Did you know that DUI arrests are at their highest during Thanksgiving weekend through the end of New Year’s? More holidays means more people driving impaired on the roads. And it’s not just alcohol: Marijuana use causes impaired driving, as well. Combining any substance with traffic is a recipe for literal disaster. 

Nervous about driving in heavy traffic, or want to refine your skills? We can help. Check out all the courses we offer at Stop and Go Driving School today.