CINCINNATI -- Traveling this holiday season may not be all merry and jolly. Greater Cincinnati will see serious storms and potentially dangerous weather in the days leading up to Christmas.
More than 100 million Americans will travel out of town this week, according to AAA.
Here are some tips to staying safe on the road, in the sky, and resources to stay up-to-date on delays and closures:
On the road:
- AAA recommends drivers check windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, brake lights and tires before hitting the road -- and to replace any items as needed. AAA customers can get free preventative tire checks at Bob Sumerel Tire locations.
- When driving on wet roads -- like we'll see in the Tri-State this week -- it's best to avoid using cruise control, according to AAA Ohio. Using cruise control while driving in wet conditions increases the chance of a driver losing control of their vehicle.
- Leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you while driving on slick roads. It's more difficult for cars to come to a hard stop with water on the road (AAA reports that even 1/12 inch of water can be enough to make a huge difference in stop times). Driving slowly and maintaining a safe following distance can help prevent accidents during heavy traffic, especially on wet roads.
- Map out your route ahead of time. This will prevent you from having to fiddle with a phone or GPS while driving.
- Always have an emergency road kit. You can assemble your own -- consisting of jumper cables, batteries, flashlight, an emergency tool for cutting seatbelts and shattering glass, electrical tape, cable ties, screwdriver, pliers, gloves, rain poncho, a blanket and a first aid kit -- or buy a pre-assembled kit. Kits go for around $20 at AutoZone.
- Locate your emergency roadside assistance card if you have emergency coverage through your insurance provider (Note: you don't have to have AAA to have roadside assistance coverage).
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds travelers to always wear a seatbelt -- this cuts your risk of dying in a crash in half.
- The CDC and law enforcement officials also remind drivers not to drink and drive. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year's involve drunk drivers. If you plan to go out and drink over the holidays, always designate a sober driver for an evening out or make a plan to order a ride home from Über or another taxi service. If you're hosting a holiday party, be aware of anyone who may be too intoxicated to drive and ask them to stay at your place for the night.
- If you believe you've encountered a drunk driver, stay far away from the car and call 9-1-1 when it's safe to do so, Mothers Against Drunk Driving recommends. Do not attempt to apprehend or approach a driver you believe to be intoxicated; leave that task up to law enforcement officials.
- WCPO.com has information on local road closures, construction and crash sites available even through the holidays. You can check it out here.
In the air:
- With bad weather, you may want to prepare yourself for the possibility of delayed flights. The Travel Channel reports at least 70 percent of flight delays are caused by bad weather. Preparation for the worst case scenario is crucial -- both mentally and physically.
- To avoid a TSA hangup, ship gifts separately or give gift cards. Not as fun (and potentially costly), but this could save you a major headache in the end.
- If you insist on bringing gifts with you, don't wrap them. TSA will likely have to unwrap them during inspection, so just bring wrapping paper and tape to take care of the job after.
- While this is good advice in pretty much every situation, the Travel Channel also warns holiday travelers to eat before you leave home to prevent getting "hangry" at the airport. You could end up getting in the wrong line, forgetting something important or spending a fortune on airplane food when you finally crack.
- Pack light and pack right: If you're flying to Mom and Dad's, there are a few items you can probably skip packing -- toothpaste, socks, etc. Wear your bulkiest clothing -- boots, a sweater or sweatshirt -- on your flight. And save room for Christmas presents (if you've been good this year, anyway). But also be sure to check TSA guidelines for liquids and prohibited items to avoid an embarrassingly long bag check, especially if you haven't flown in a while.
- Flying through CVG? You can check your flight status here on the airport's website. FlightView also has information on flights all around the country with a running list of delays.
- Want to hear about delays from the experts? The Federal Aviation Administration is as official as it gets. Their flight delays map covers the entire country. You can check it out here or follow @FAANews on Twitter for the latest.
- If your plane hits turbulence or bad weather, don't panic. Here's an online pep-talk for anyone with flight anxiety. The gist: your pilot will not fly is conditions are bad, there is no way that extreme weather will destroy an airplane and turbulence is not as scary at it may seem or feel. If flight anxiety this is a regular problem for you, consult a doctor who may be able to prescribe a medication that can help. In the meantime, headphones, ear plugs, a new podcast and/or music playlist can help you relax.
- WCPO - 9 On Your Side posts the latest updates on Twitter, Facebook and on WCPO.com. Our traffic and weather pages have real-time updates, traffic cameras and everything else you need for a safe journey. Also, download the free WCPO app to get push alerts with breaking traffic and weather news. Click here for traffic; weather and Tri-State news.
- Speaking of apps, here are the Travel Channel's favorite travel apps. Download these before your big trip -- plus the WCPO and Storm Shield apps!
- If you're flying or picking someone up from the airport, FlightView's CVG flight tracker and airport delays map could be a big help!
- The Federal Aviation Administration's flight delays map covers the entire country. You can check out the map here.
- If you hit trouble, emergency roadside assistance can come to your aid, no matter how far you are from home. These services are for members only, but AAA, Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, American Family Insurance, Esurance, GEICO, Nationwide and Farmer's all have their own versions of roadside assistance.
- If you don't have roadside assistance coverage, you have a few other options. Your car manufacturer may offer battery service or towing to the nearest dealership in a jam. You can check a list here. Some credit card companies also offer free roadside assistance services -- more information on that here.