If you're traveling by air during the holiday season, the federal government suggests you do the following before reaching the metal detector, take off your coat, put your change, keys and other metal objects in your carry-on luggage, and take your laptop computer out of the case.
Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security Department's undersecretary for travel, says airport security lines are likely to get longer at holiday time.
The Transportation Security Administration will have fewer full-time screeners at the nation's airports this year than last. Congress ordered the agency to cut 6,000 jobs by Oct. 1.
Hutchinson says the agency is canceling holiday leave for airport screeners in a bid to shorten waiting times.
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Holiday Driving Tips
Vehicle Preparation and Packing
- Have your vehicle checked before traveling. Many garages offer safety checks for tire tread and pressure, lights, brakes, cooling systems and other components.
- Make sure everything is securely stowed when you pack your vehicle. Even small objects can become dangerous missiles in the event of a sudden stop or a crash.
- If you’re towing a trailer or caravan, load heavy objects evenly over all of the axles.
Trailers and Caravans
- Check all towing attachments and make sure the couplings are compatible. Also remember to check the safety chain, trailer lights, tires and brakes.
- Remember that if you are towing a trailer your maximum speed limit on the open road is 55 mph.
- Keep right .
- Long journeys can be tiring and driver fatigue is a serious problem, contributing to 55 fatal crashes last year.
- Get plenty of sleep before your journey and try to drive at times of the day when you are normally awake.
- Take your time and plan for rest breaks every couple of hours. Get out of your vehicle and take a short walk or do some other exercise to get your blood flowing and improve alertness. If you feel tired, take a short nap (less than 40 minutes).
- If possible, share the driving.
- Don’t drink and drive and don’t speed. Many fatigue-related crashes also involve these two factors.
- Use air conditioning if your vehicle has it. Cool air will keep you more alert and will help avoid frustration and stress, which is a major cause of fatigue.
Keep Your Cool
- Be courteous - let others merge into traffic and use your indicators before turning or changing lanes.
- Keep right unless passing.
- Be patient and don’t be provoked by another driver’s aggressive behavior.
- Watch out for children on the road. Young cyclists and pedestrians can be unpredictable and poor judges of vehicle speed.
- Too many family holidays are marred by tragedy when a crash occurs and people aren’t properly restrained.
- It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers are wearing safety belts.
- The law requires children to be restrained in approved child seats suitable to their size and weight.
Share the Road
- Always keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. This gives you a safe stopping distance should the vehicle in front of you stop suddenly.
- Be patient. Trucks and towing vehicles have lower speed limits. If you’re traveling behind a slower vehicle, wait for a passing lane or until you can see clear road ahead of you and enough space to overtake safely.
- After overtaking a larger vehicle, don’t slow down quickly or cut in too closely. Larger vehicles take a longer time to brake and you could end up getting hit from behind.
- Be aware that large vehicles may need more room to turn.
Source: A compilation of Web Reports contributed to this report.