’Tis the season to travel, so here are helpful tips to ensure a safe trip

The Highway 41 and 180 interchange is shown in this drone aerial photo. Freeways will be getting busy as people head to see relatives and friends for the holidays.
The Highway 41 and 180 interchange is shown in this drone aerial photo. Freeways will be getting busy as people head to see relatives and friends for the holidays. Fresno Bee file

The busiest travel period of the year is upon us as more than 54.3 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more for the Thanksgiving holiday. Will you be amongst the holiday travel madness?

In an effort to be ready to assist motorists at a moment’s notice, the California Highway Patrol will have all available officers on patrol during a maximum enforcement period Wednesday through Sunday. Officers will work to expedite the flow of traffic by removing traffic debris, responding to those in need and looking for unsafe drivers.

If your holiday plans require you to leave home for Thanksgiving, the CHP would like to make sure you are prepared for the trip. Here is how you can avoid being left stranded during the busy holiday season:

Battery power – Having just experienced another hot summer here in the San Joaquin Valley, engine batteries tend to be running at lower strength levels. While we welcome the return of cooler temperatures, we must remember starting an engine takes twice as much power when it is cold outside. An easy way to check your battery is by simply looking at it. Just a small glance at the battery can go a long way. Does it look clean – are the connections tight and secure or has the expiration date passed? Another tell-tale sign your battery may need to be replaced is when you attempt to start your vehicle, you notice the cranking is slow or sluggish.

Tire pressure – It is common to see your tire pressure drop during cooler temperatures. Of course, tires naturally lose pressure over time, but colder temperatures will cause pressure to drop nearly one pound per square inch for every 10 degree Fahrenheit drop in air temperature. If your tire pressure drops too low and you do not address it, your tires can overheat. Overheating can lead to tire tread separation and possibly a blowout, which can cause a dangerous traffic collision. Please refer to your owner’s manual to ensure your tires are properly inflated, or locate your recommended tire pressure on the door panel next to your vehicle identification number.

CHP officer Robert Montano shows where in the door jam of a vehicle the tire-pressure information can be found. Courtesy of CHP officer Robert Montano

Know your route – Given recent construction on our Valley freeways you may encounter unexpected roadway closures while traveling to a relative’s house. A great feature to use is the “Caltrans Quickmap” application on your mobile phone. The Quickmap will give you up to date information on road closures, off-ramp closures, traffic collisions and other important traffic hazards you should know about.

Slow down! – Given the extra amount of traffic on the road during this season, speeding and failure to keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles becomes even more dangerous. We suggest using the 2- to 3-second separation rule as speeding is still the No. 1 cause of traffic collisions.

While we are on the topic of safety, the CHP would like to remind all motorists to buckle up before you head out for any trip. Drivers should always lead by example and require all passengers within their vehicle to buckle up as well. Applying your seat belt literally takes seconds and can make the difference between life and death.

According to the 2016 Thanksgiving data, 27 people were killed as a result of a traffic collision within the CHP’s jurisdiction. Among these 27 people, 14 were determined to not be wearing a seat belt at the time of the tragic event. In an effort to reduce this number, the CHP, along with local police departments across the state, will work to locate motorists who are in violation of California’s seat belt laws. So, please, buckle up every time.

On the behalf of the California Highway Patrol, I want to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday season.

CHP Officer Robert Montano can be reached at rmontano@chp.ca.gov. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.