by: Valerie Nay
Every year during the holiday season TV, radio, newspapers and others talk a lot about the hazards of drunk driving and remind us to be careful. Extra police are on the streets and many cities set up sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers on nights when there are likely to be more parties.
This extra focus reduces the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents and makes all of us safer on the road during the holidays.
Drunk drivers aren’t the only hazard on the road during the holidays, though. While most of us would never dream of getting behind the wheel drunk, we could still be creating serious dangers without thinking about it.
Juggling normal responsibilities with shopping, parties, and extra school events can make a normally safe driver a literal wreck. Even if you are always calm and collected, remember that other drivers may be more on edge than usual and take these precautions.
*Be extra patient and make allowances for other people and the mistakes they make. Don’t forget to watch out for pedestrians as well as other drivers.
*Try to keep your attention on what you are doing. Not only could they cause you to make a mistake, but cell phones, eating and other distractions keep you from paying attention to other people and the silly errors they can make.
*Be especially careful in parking lots crammed with cars and pedestrians at this time of year. Take it a little slower than normal to avoid fender benders or worse.
*Take note of your emotions and consider taking a break if you get too stressed out, irritated or emotional. Get a cup of coffee or tea and relax for 10 minutes before you dive back in to the frenzy.
Another danger that is often forgotten, but also a huge problem during this hectic time of year, is driving while drowsy. Falling asleep at the wheel is obviously the most dangerous result, but tired drivers also tend to be more irritable and impatient.
This year like normal there will no doubt be many people who leave work on Friday and start out on long-distance trips to be with family or friends. College students whose holiday break begin after classes on Friday may be headed home as well.
Here are some recommendations you should consider and pass along to family members and friends who may be traveling by car during the holidays:
*Don’t start your journey tired. Be aware of the risks if you get up unusually early to start your trip or leave directly from work or school when you are tired.
*Plan your trip to include a 15-minute break every two hours.
*Make sure that you and everyone on your trip is carrying emergency contact information and valid identification.
*Share the driving if possible. Safety experts recommend switching off every three hours.
*You’re too tired to drive if you start drifting from your lane, hitting rumble strips, yawning repeatedly, having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open, missing road signs or tailgating. Pull over to a safe place as soon as possible, drink a high caffeine drink and take a 15-minute nap.