Traveling by car for the holidays

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - We wanted to start off immediately. A story about getting on the road to your final destination. But Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Gordon had some other ideas.

Courtesy: lorenz.markus97 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

“There are a couple of things that people should do before we take a trip, especially an extended trip,” Trooper Gordon told us.

He suggests examining your car now before you head out. Things like checking tire pressure, lights, windshield wipers. Make sure you fill the reservoir with the proper fluid.

“The stuff that can be used in the summer is pretty much water-based. It will freeze. It will clog the lines. It will be useless,” said Trooper Gordon.

The label on the windshield wiper fluid will tell you if it's for temperatures below zero. The oil and antifreeze should be filled if needed. Travel on a full tank of gas always. Don't depend upon another gas station down the road; there might not be one.

”That way if you do break down, some sort of mechanical failure, and your car still runs, you have heat,” Trooper Gordon observes.

Familiarize yourself with things like snow chains and carry them. Check the back of your car; if there is a spare, make sure it's in good working order, and know where the jack and lug wrench are. But there's a new trend those who help motorists are seeing. In newer cars. There may be no spare tire at all.

“Go to the back of the trunk and where the spare should be is the can of fix-a-flat and air compressor. Depending upon the severity of the flat it could be completely gone in seconds by the time you pull over in a safe location and that fix-a-flat is not going to help you there,” says Jason Nelson with NDOT's Freeway Service Patrol.

Nelson says new or used, check your car and see what it doesn't have inside. If a spare tire is missing, get one, and all the equipment needed to change a tire.

Before leaving, tell a couple people when you are leaving, what route you are taking, and what time you expect to get to your destination.

If at some point you have to pull to the side of the road for an emergency, make you're way to the right shoulder, the safest part of the road.

Trooper Gordon says as you pull to the right, look for obstacles in the road, or objects that have landed on the right shoulder; avoid them if possible.

Look at your surroundings. Look for street signs or mile markers. That will help you let law enforcement or a tow truck know where you are. Put your hazard lights on.

While he says you can leave your car, don't travel too far.

“The farther you get from your car, and especially as we get into the rural areas, the harder it will be to find you and you are away from shelter,” Trooper Gordon says.

The trooper says while you are waiting for help....never ever take a ride from a stranger. Instead, he says, “Have them drive a couple of miles up; when they get cell service maybe call and say, hey there is a stranded motorists down there.”

Depending upon the amount of gas you have and the car you are driving you can turn the car off and on to keep warm.

“But bring extra blankets and socks and stuff like that. It is the middle of December or January or one of the cold months, and we will get up to the car, and they are in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. It's almost like you have to prepare for the worst. You pray for the best, but prepare for the worst,” says Trooper Gordon.