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Tips for the roads over the holidays

BEMIDJI — Every year, holiday travelers take to the skies and hit the rails, but most hit the road. In 2012, AAA estimated 93 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles through the holidays — 90 percent of whom drove. “Because of increased traffic and the possibility of wintry conditions, staying safe on the roads over the holidays requires additional precautions,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, in a press release. “Make sure your car is in good shape and that you’re prepared for bad weather. While you’re driving, put down your cellphone and focus on the road ahead.”

Here’s the BB’s steps for safe travel this holiday season:

Create a car safety kit. Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice can lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper and warm gloves.

Get a tune-up. If your car is due for a tune-up, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires and, if you plan on driving through serious winter weather, consider getting snow tires.

Start early and slow down. The best way to fight holiday traffic is to give yourself some extra time to make the trip, and don’t speed. Also, if you’re caught speeding by law enforcement, that adds travel time and puts a dent in your holiday budget.

Drop the distractions. A lot of tragic and unnecessary accidents take place when people are talking on their cell phone or sending text messages. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t text and drive. Pull into a rest area or a service station before sending a text message or making a call on your cellphone.