David A. Bryant

This the season for annual or block leave and of traveling galore, as those who can will take off for frantic visits to family and friends across the nation.

Whether the reason for your season happens to be Christmas, Chanukah or just a celebration of the winter solstice, the roads will be filled with travelers merrily zipping to and fro to destinations unknown.

While Central Texas probably won’t see a white Christmas, it’s quite possible many of those destinations will — especially when heading up to northern states where winter snow is measured in feet before traffic becomes as dicey as a quarter inch of snow does here. So this is also the season to think safety before packing your vehicle full of gifts, spouses, kids or battle buddies before hitting the road.

After all, the best present anyone can give their loved ones is to make it to a destination and back in one piece.

I know, you’ll hear me harp quite often on driving safety. Perhaps I’m just getting older and my reflexes are slowing down. Perhaps it’s my dislike of paying traffic fines. Or maybe it’s like what my soldiers always tell me — I drive like a grandpa.

I do remember my younger days, when I was 10-foot tall and bulletproof and could drive from North Carolina to the west ends of Texas with only a few stops to take a short nap in the car. How I survived those days is beyond even me.

Regardless, planning a little before driving a long distance never hurt anyone.

Thanks to the weather and the potential for freezing rain, sleet and snow, it’s probably not a bad idea to plan extra driving time on your trip. After all, it’s usually not conducive to continued health to drive 80 mph on ice and snow.

If you're heading to one of those areas, pack an emergency kit. Extra blankets, water, snacks and a flare.

Plan for other people’s bad driving. Just because you may know how to handle a vehicle if you start sliding, doesn’t mean others do. You’re more likely to get into an accident from others' lack of ability thank a lack of your own if you take that into account.

Get lots of rest. If you have multiple drivers, switch drivers ever few hours to ensure each driver can stay rested. If not, plan breaks into your travel route — especially if you’re driving for a long distance.

Stay off the cellphone. If you need to, set an auto reply to let people know you’re driving. If you have a significant other or battle buddy with you, let that person handle answering phone calls.

Plan to come back alive. Your family, friends and battle buddies will thank you for it. Merry Christmas!

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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