Holiday Driving: Think PIE


As the holidays approach, more and more Columbus Air Force Base personnel will be embarking on trips to see family, friends and to get some much needed rest and recuperation.


Holiday travel often involves longer road trips, with increased traffic and some adverse weather.


In such conditions, driving becomes more dangerous and it is imperative to limit any potential problems. Similar to the way pilots conduct an aircraft preflight so they can ensure the “airworthiness” of their jet, we have some tips for you before you even start your engine.


With no shortage of acronyms in the military, we tried to think of a short and easy acronym for you to think of before you set out on your road trips this holiday season. Keeping in mind all the delicious holiday food, we want you to think PIE before your next road trip. PIE stands for Plan, Inspect and Execute.  


Plan: Before stepping to the vehicle, personnel should have a well-developed plan for a trip. This includes taking a few extra minutes to identify adverse weather which might inhibit travel. Establish a final destination and include a stopping point for rest if the trip spans more than one day. To help with pre-trip planning, referencing websites such as mdottraffic.com or https://trips.safety.army.mil can help supply information about road conditions, construction zones, weather, welcome centers, and rest areas for your specific trip.


Drivers must be well rested, hydrated, properly fed, and sober. Identify emergency contacts throughout the trip so if there is any trouble a quick solution can be found. Be sure to locate and ensure license, registration, and proof of insurance are all valid and up to date. Along with locating driving documents make sure they are stored in a place easily accessible. Finally, organize belongings; this including driving snacks and coffee before heading out to the vehicle.


Inspect: A quick but thorough inspection should be made to ensure a vehicle is ready to make an extended trip. Start by checking the outside of the car by looking for any leaks under the vehicle. Next, check tire pressure and tread. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a quick and easy way to check tire tread is to place a penny in the tread with President Lincoln’s head upside down facing outward. If the top of his head can be seen, the tire tread is insufficient. Check indicator lights to see if an oil change or any other maintenance is in order such as topping off engine coolant, wiper fluid, or any other additions under the hood.


Test the functionality of windshield wipers, lights and turn signals. Take a moment to clean the windshield, removing any dead bugs and road film so there are no visual obstructions or unwanted glares. Finally, ensure there are no cracks in the windshield. Inspecting a vehicle before leaving helps eliminate delays or maintenance failures that could potentially ruin a trip.


Execute: After conducting the inspection, enter the vehicle and fire it up. Once the vehicle is started, re-check all gauges and lights to ensure there are no maintenance messages or gauge malfunctions. Next, establish a personal feng shui in the vehicle to limit distractions and focus on the road. This is the time to do a navigation check. Configure any GPS or shotgun rider with maps so the driver is not trying to operate a GPS unit or argue about directions while driving. Preset a radio station or queue up that “killer playlist” made for the trip. If a phone is not being used for navigation, set it away somewhere it won’t be a distraction. Once ready, exit the parking space and hit the open road.


Many people will spend more time focusing on the trip out to their destination and take for granted the return trip. Don’t assume making it to a destination means there will be no problems on the way back. As you prepare for a holiday trip, keep PIE in mind and stay safe this holiday season because you are our greatest asset.