Holiday travel: ‘Be patient and kind’ 

As the winter season arrives, so does the increase in students traveling, either by car or airplane. 

Eastern Iowa Airport Director of Marketing and Communications Pam Hinman said the Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving there were about 6,500 who came through the airport. She added there are “no specifics on numbers for Christmas at this time, but it will be busy.” 

If traveling by air this winter, Hinman offered a few tips to reduce stress. She said travelers should arrive to the airport at least 90 minutes prior to departure. She added, “Download your airline’s mobile app for the most up-to-date information for your entire trip.”  

Hinman said, “The best overall advice for holiday travel: Be patient and be kind to all.”  

When it comes to traveling for the Christmas holiday, American Automobile Association reported more Americans travel by car, which puts an increase on the roadways. This includes college students who may head home after the semester ends. 

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Bob Conrad, #303 Public Resource Officer, said wearing a seatbelt is one way to increase safety on busy roadways. “In Iowa, currently over 45% of our fatalities were not wearing their seatbelt at the time of the crash. When you wear your seatbelt in any vehicle.” 

Conrad added, “Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the roads today.  We all know it is bad, but still, we see people every day, every mile and at every intersection not taking it seriously.” 

After a long semester and staying up late studying for finals, students should rest before hitting the road to travel home. “Drowsy driving is the forgotten danger of people traveling from one point to another.  Many people do not get the necessary sleep to travel safely.  It has been proven, driving drowsy can be every bit as dangerous as impaired driving,” said Conrad.  

Kirkwood students also had safe driving tips to share. Kelly Oman, pharmacy tech, said on busy roadways she changes how she drives. “I drive more careful, I go slower, don’t cut corners as sharp and I watch other drivers more,” she said.  

Audrey Miller, elementary education, agreed. “I try to drive slower, allow more time and drive more cautiously.” 

In addition to being aware of one’s surroundings on busy roads this holiday season, Conrad said, “Don’t forget to have your car ready for the drive during winter in Iowa. This time of year, it is critical to have your car’s proper maintenance taken care of.”   

He added, “If you have equipment like tires and wipers in bad shape, get them repaired immediately.  Lack of traction or loss of visibility can become life threatening as you quickly find yourself in the path of another vehicle.  Also pack the necessary items in your car for cold weather travel in case you become stranded.”  

For additional information about safe driving this winter, check out winter driving article on Page 3 of this issue.  

Travel tips

  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions before a trip. If conditions are expected to be less than ideal, postpone a trip or use more caution if the trip cannot be delayed.  
  • Maintain a reasonable speed and safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. Winter road conditions result in longer stopping distances and reduced visibility.  
  • Drive below the posted speed limit when road conditions are not ideal.    
  • Turn on lights to see and be seen. Keep head and tail lights clear of snow.   
  • Avoid using cruise control in winter driving conditions.  You need to be in control of your car.  
  • If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, understand how to use them and what to expect when they are used.  
  • Don’t drive through “white out” conditions. Be patient, wait it out until conditions improve.  
  • Be aware that ramps and bridges may freeze before other roadway segments. 
Image courtesy of Jeff Sigmund Photography

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