Driving During the Holidays

Safe driving can be very difficult during the holiday season. Some of the factors for this include difficult weather conditions, limited daylight, drivers in unfamiliar areas, distracted drivers, and impaired drivers. Continue reading for tips on how to stay safe on the road this holiday season.

Weather Conditions

When rain and cold weather mix, it creates icy conditions on the roadways. Make sure to always check the weather and listen to the radio for road closures and upcoming dangerous weather. It is also good to have your headlights and windshield wipers checked to make sure they are functioning properly. You should also never ignore your tire pressure light and have appropriate weather tires installed and even carrying an emergency kit can make a difference in a bad situation. 

Limited Daylight

Daylight savings happens at the beginning of November, causing it to get darker earlier. Roads can become dangerous if not properly lit. Make sure your headlights are on at the appropriate time to increase visibility for yourself and others and try to avoid unlit roadways if at all possible. 

Drivers in Unfamiliar Areas

The holidays bring people together from all over. You may be experiencing a flux in drivers who are not from your area and are unfamiliar with the ways of the road in your city. These out-of-town visitors may drive more slowly, break more frequently, have sudden lane changes, and take last-minute exits. To avoid these dangerous behaviors, it is recommended that you plan your route ahead of time and get an idea of where you are going before even getting in the car. If at all possible, ask a friend or family member who is familiar with the area to drive you where you need to go instead. 

Distracted Drivers

Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers and are more pronounced during the holidays because of increased travel and busy schedules. Distractions include but are not limited to cell phones, radios, reading maps or GPS, grooming, passengers, and stress. By avoiding these distractions as best as possible, you are mitigating the risk of a potentially fatal accident. It’s best to make sure all phone calls are made and texts sent before getting into the car. Having your cell phone on “do not disturb” or “driving mode” can help minimize the temptation to pick it up. Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds- the equivalent of driving a football length field at 55 mph blind. If you are using a GPS service, try to have the location set before driving. Grooming yourself or checking your hair and makeup while driving has never been safe. Taking your eyes off the road to fix a stray hair is not worth your life or the lives of others. Speaking of others, your passengers should be on their best behavior while in a moving vehicle. Making sure everyone has what they need and children are secured properly in an appropriate car seat can save you from being distracted while driving. Stress is also a huge distraction. With so much to do, in so little time, this stress can cause drivers to make poor judgments when behind the wheel. Making sure you are paying attention to the road and your surroundings could be key in sparing your or someone else’s life.  

Impaired Drivers

Don’t drink and drive. If you are going to a holiday party or other festivities, make sure you have a plan to get home or a designated driver. If you do end up having a few drinks, there are several options for you to get home safely. Find someone sober who you trust to drive you home safely. If no one can bring you home who is already there, try calling someone to pick you up, call a taxi, or even use a service like Uber or Lyft. If those options are unavailable to you, call your local police department’s non-emergency number and ask if they are offering a Safe Ride Home program. This is a program where officers will pick you up if you have had too much to drink and are unable to drive, and will bring you home at no penalty or cost. Typically this special program runs from Thanksgiving day through New Year. 

Driving can already be dangerous but during the holidays the risks increase. In order to protect yourself and those around you, make sure you are paying attention, driving with a clear mind in a distraction-free environment, and always have a plan to safely get home. In the event that a car accident does occur, make sure you call an experienced personal injury lawyer who will fight for you. Tammy Karis Griggs is here to serve the community of St. Tammany Parish.

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