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Tools to Help Plan Ahead for Your Holiday Road Trip

Families and friends will be traveling to celebrate the upcoming Christmas holiday. The key to a successful and safe holiday road trip is planning. You need to know before you go that with the month of December comes winter weather and possible delays on many major routes.

Here are several tools to help you plan your holiday travel:

Check your vehicle. There is nothing more dangerous than having your car break down in the midst of cold weather or severe weather conditions. The National Highway Traffic Safey Administration provides a checklist to help prepare your vehicle for winter driving conditions.

Check weather along your route. Weather conditions can change quickly. You can check hourly local weather conditions for your destination at the National Weather Service website.

Check road conditions along your route. The holiday increase in traffic volume means travelers should expect delays. Check current road conditions and alert or advisory updates for roads and highways. Visit the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration page that includes a list of current road conditions by state.

Prepare for Toll Charges for Interstate Travel. Out-of-town travelers should consider learning about toll roads and temporary account payment options, as majority of states have toll roads, toll bridges, express lanes that charge, and most are transitioning to electronic payments. You can pay tolls on most toll roads using a transponder. Visit Tollguru site for tolls, toll roads and methods of toll payments for each state.

Prepare for Emergencies. Even when you think you are fully prepared for your journey, unexpected situations can happen. Always have an emergency kit in your car. Visit ready.gov for a list of winter weather items you should pack in your car and how to prepare your car for emergencies.

Keep Your Cell Phone Charged. Your cell phone is a source for up-to-date weather information, but it is essential in case of emergency. Make sure your phone is handy and fully charged. For good measure, have a battery pack charger on hand.

Practice safe winter driving. Leave extra time for travel. Slow down and leave extra space between vehicles when driving on snow or ice. Carry chains and other winter travel essentials if you plan to travel through mountain passes. Avoid risky driving behavior. Do not text or drive distracted, obey posted speed limits, do not drink and drive, and remember to always wear your seat belt. Check the National Safety Council site for safe winter driving tips, including how to avoid a crash.

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