Tips for safe holiday travel

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By Carol A. Clark

When traveling, it’s important to know where you’re going, how to get there and how to get back, according to law enforcement officials, to avoid getting lost or ending up in a dangerous area of an unfamiliar city.“If traveling out-of-state, most state law enforcement agencies provide road and highway information and it’s a good idea to check road conditions before leaving home,” said Cpl. Doug Johnson of the Los Alamos Police Department. “Another important tip is to inform family members where you will be and when you expect to return. It’s also a good practice to provide family members with your intended travel route.”Johnson also advises travelers to check in advance for construction detours to help avoid long delays and to minimize the potential for getting lost.Another safety tip is to travel and conduct road business during daylight hours whenever possible and to lock all doors and windows when getting into a vehicle and keep them locked while driving, Johnson said. If possible, know the emergency cell codes for the area you're in, he said, adding that state codes can be easily Googled.When driving, keep doors locked and windows rolled up. Maintain at least half a tank of fuel, and keep vehicles in good repair.LAPD Capt. Randy Foster cautions travelers to be sure to pack warm blankets and plenty of water or other fluids. “Be sure not to let the car get too low on gas in case you get stranded,” Foster said. “You may need to be able to run the car for an extended period of time and the blankets and fluids will help as well.”When planning a holiday road trip it’s also important to have vehicles serviced and checked out sufficiently far ahead to allow for repairs if needed, Johnson said, adding that spare tires and all fluid levels and other preventive maintenance procedures also should be checked before heading out on the highway.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, adapted by the New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Bureau, suggests holiday travelers adopt the following alcohol related habits:

• Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.

• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.

• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement via the Drunkbusters hotline #DWI or #3-9-4.

• Wearing your seat belt or using protective gear on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver.

• Don’t forget, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.” If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.Safety officials suggest travelers consider keeping spare fuses and a “breakdown kit” in their vehicle at all times.Breakdown kits may be purchased from a variety of sources, or can be assembled through purchases at any auto parts or hardware store using a commercial version as a guideline.At a minimum, a “breakdown kit” should include a thermal blanket or sleeping bag and a gallon of water, a “HELP” sign or flag and flares or reflectors, a flashlight and duct tape.