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Tips For Safe And Fun Holiday Driving



Irv Gordon, owner of the record-breaking 1966 Volvo P1800, says patience, preparation and 'thinking happy thoughts' are key for the long holiday haul

NEW YORK (Dec. 16, 2002) --- Preparing for a road trip to visit family and friends this holiday season? So are 46 million other Americans, including Irv Gordon, who as the first person to drive two million miles in the same car, has taken more driving trips than just about anyone.

Gordon, a 60-year-old retired science teacher from Long Island, gained worldwide notoriety on March 27 when he turned his two millionth mile in his shiny red 1966 Volvo P1800 while driving down Times Square during Volvo Cars of North America's 75th anniversary event.

Gordon takes delight in driving to Philadelphia for lunch, Montreal for dinner or California just for the fun of it. His advice to families joining him on the highways and interstates over the next two weeks is to be patient, prepared and positive.

"If you're hitting the road for a long haul this holiday, you have to be aware of the surprising weather that December can spring upon you," Gordon said. "For example, a lot of Floridians I know think winterizing your car means throwing an ice scraper in your trunk. But if you're driving up to visit Uncle Artie in Minnesota where it's five below with six inches of snow falling, you must do a lot more than that.

"Have fun and relax while on the road. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination," he added. "The holidays should be about eating, drinking and being merry -- not flat tires, road rage and frustration."

To make your road trip dreams come true, Gordon offers these tips to holiday travelers:

Enjoy the scenery and the company. "Throw your cell phone and your kids' headphones in the trunk and take in the scenery a road trip offers. We live in a beautiful country, and you can enjoy it so much more in a car than in a plane or train. Also, turn down the radio and talk with your family. It's one of the few times each year all of you are together with time to chat."

Think happy thoughts. "Going to visit your mother-in-law when you really don't want to? Trust me, don't tell that to the others in the car, especially your spouse. It's just not worth it. Instead, think positive thoughts - put yourself in a happy place, like your favorite Waffle House, ballpark or department store. And remember, summer is just around the corner."

Really winterize your car. "Prepare for the climate you'll be visiting, not just the one in which you live. Have a qualified mechanic check your tire inflation, treads, brake wear, fluids, etc., and let him or her know the type of weather in which you could be driving. I once used the windshield fluid that freezes below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That's fine if it's 50 outside, but one December I was driving through cold Wisconsin rain. I hit the wiper fluid switch and -- poof! -- the windshield turned to ice. It had been shellacked! I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. "

Take frequent breaks. "This is not NASCAR; it's okay to take long breaks to stretch your legs, breathe fresh air and review your maps. It keeps you more alert on the road and it may help prevent you from losing your mind next time someone cuts in front of you."

Buckle up. "I know I'm being the master of the obvious with this one, but it's the most important thing you and your family will do on a trip. Plus, it was a Volvo employee named Nils Bohlin who created the modern safety belt, which has been credited with saving tens of thousands of lives, so I'm a bit partial."

Bring your papers. "That Missouri highway patrolman is probably pretty disappointed that he has to work Christmas morning. He's going to be even more disappointed when he pulls you over for speeding and discovers that you left your license, registration and insurance card back home in Jersey."

Pack light. "Why do some people think it's a crime to bring only half the clothes that you will need? For Pete's sake, Grandma has a washer and dryer at her house, so use them. Plus, you'll probably be getting clothes for Christmas anyway. So, pack light. Less luggage means less headaches and better gas mileage."

Don't drive if you can't stand the weather. "The holidays are not the time to be daring. Say you live in Arizona and you want to drive up to meet your fiancé's family in Cheyenne, Wyo. Trouble is, you've never driven through snow, and you're afraid to try it now. Consider taking a plane, train or bus. You'd rather be stranded at the Denver airport than on the side of I-25."

Gordon purchased his P1800 in June 1966 from a neighborhood Volvo dealership for $4,150. His 125-mile daily commute to and from work, his passion for driving and his meticulous care for his car enabled him to clock the miles. In 1998, The Guinness Book of World Records honored Gordon's car as the vehicle with the "highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in non-commercial service." Gordon breaks his own world record every time he drives his celebrated car.

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Contact: Sören Johansson, Volvo Cars of North America, 949-341-6719, Eric Davis, Haberman & Associates, 612-338-3900,

Media: For photos and more information on the Volvo for Life Awards:

Sources: Data on number of holiday travelers reported by AAA, Dec. 10, 2002.

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