Stay alert, be patient, and be prepared. It's sage advice to keep in mind at every step as we head toward another busy holiday season. And as many of us soon hurriedly pack the family into the car and hit the crowded roads for Thanksgiving, it might take a lot of reminders to .
Irv Gordon, a retired science teacher from Long Island, New York, is a model for safe driving; he holds the record for the most miles in the same car: 2.8 million miles behind the wheel of his 1966 Volvo P1800, which he bought new in '66 for $4,150.
And while Gordon has become an exemplar for responsible and pre-emptive vehicle maintenance, showing people that it's possible to drive a vehicle into very high mileage with confidence—not just Volvos, he admits—its his lack of a major accident over millions of miles that's also impressive.
To help you recalibrate your mindset for the holidays and make sure your vehicle is prepared, check out our Getting Ready for Winter Driving post, then read on for Gordon's tips:
- Check your bulbs and more. "A person may spend hours checking every bulb on the holiday lights he's displaying in his front yard, but how much time does he spend checking his brake light bulbs?" Gordon asks. "Check your lights and turn signals. In fact, have a certified mechanic inspect for you, along with tire inflation and treads, brakes, fluids, etc. It's good to have a full tune up before you take your trip."
- Prepare for a winter wonderland. "While it may be 60 and pleasant in Denver as you hit the roads at dawn, it might be 15 and snowing as you pull into Boise at 11 p.m. that night," Gordon said. "Winter can be as unpredictable as Uncle Steve's crude jokes at the dinner table, so prepare for the absolute worst conditions, even if the forecast tells you otherwise. Keep a blanket, ice scraper, an emergency roadside kit, snacks and bottled water in the trunk."
- Rotate your drivers. "Let's all agree that everyone's attention spans are much shorter than they once were, so don't put it to the test on the roadways," Gordon said. "Switch out drivers every couple of hours. If you're driving solo or there's no other person with a valid driver's license in the car, take breaks at rest stops every 90 minutes or so. Stretch the legs and snack on some leftovers."
- Batteries not included. "Make a rule that nothing requiring a battery charge reside in the front of the car. Cell phones, MP3 players, DVD players, etc. They are all potential distractions. Put them in the back or even the trunk," Gordon said. "In fact, make a rule that everyone put their gadgets away. Road trips are wonderful times to reconnect with family members and enjoy the beautiful views this nation offers."
- Be mindful of others on the road. "While the holidays bring out the best of us in person, it can bring out the worst of us behind the wheels," Gordon said. "Keep your emotions in check and be mindful of others on the road. Allow plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Merge with caution. Keep in the right lane unless passing. Essentially, show goodwill toward all."