December 23, 2021

How Can I Stay Safe Driving During the Holiday Season?

Winter Weather driving

In the United States, car accidents kill thousands of people every year. During 2020 when people were driving less, the number of accident fatalities actually increased to more than 38,000, the highest level since 2007. Driving safety is always important but especially during the holiday season when the roadways may be packed with shoppers and people on the way to family gatherings. Remember that other drivers may be distracted by all they have to get done before they can relax and enjoy time off. Try not to let the stress and chaos of the holidays get to you, and take a minute to review the following tips for staying safe while driving during the holiday season. 

Tips for Safe Holiday Driving

Leave plenty of time to get to your destination. Allowing plenty of time will make a big difference in your mood and how you drive. Feeling rushed just adds to the stress of trying to make it somewhere on time, and speeding definitely increases the risk of an accident along the way. Allow extra drive time to account for holiday traffic and unexpected events such as weather and accidents. Some people like to set their watch or clock ahead so that they always have a few extra minutes and do not have to rush.

Drive defensively. This is something drivers should always be doing, but during the holidays there is more traffic to contend with and there are apt to be more distracted drivers and drowsy drivers. Always scan the road for other vehicles, use your turn signals, drive within the posted speed limit, and leave ample following room to the next vehicle.

Drive well rested. Avoid being one of the drowsy drivers referred to above by getting lots of rest during the holidays. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving because it slows your reflexes and impairs your judgment. You cannot drive defensively if you cannot stay alert. If you are having trouble focusing on driving or find yourself nodding off, pull to the side of the road and take a break before continuing your drive. Staying hydrated is a good defense against drowsiness, so be sure to have water on hand. Certain medications can also cause drowsiness; therefore, check medication labels for side effects and avoid any that list drowsiness if you know you will be driving.

Eliminate distractions. Drivers have a lot on their minds during the holidays, but once you are behind the wheel, the only thing that counts is the road ahead and the drivers around you. Before you start to drive, program the navigation system and any entertainment needed for children. Never check your cell phone while driving; if you must use your phone, pull over to do so. 

Perform regular maintenance checks. Keep your vehicle in good shape so that you do not have to worry about breakdowns in cold weather, unfamiliar places, or while you are trying to get to a holiday party. Check the tire pressure and treads; check fluid levels including oil, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid; and replace your wiper blades if they are old and worn out. Be sure your car is equipped with an emergency kit that has a flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid supplies, flares, jumper cables, a blanket, and extra food and water. 

Check the weather. Change your plans if road conditions will be adversely affected; if you must go out, adjust your driving speed to the weather. If you live in a cold climate, it is a good idea to have a portable snow shovel and sand or kitty litter for traction in case you get stuck somewhere. 

Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It sounds obvious, but some people do not plan ahead and then make the bad decision to get behind the wheel after drinking at a holiday party. Drunk drivers are a threat to themselves, their passengers, and everyone around them on the road. Designate someone who will not be drinking as a driver, use public transport, or arrange for a taxi or rideshare service.

Always use your seat belt whether you are on a long road trip or going to the corner store for milk. Seat belts can save lives and prevent serious injuries. If you are the driver, check to see that your passengers are wearing their seat belts.

Safety for Children

Because of their size and weight, children are at greater risk during a car accident if they have not been properly protected. Small children and children under the age of 12 should ride in the vehicle’s back seat using an age and size appropriate car seat or booster seat. The seat must be properly installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to do so could result in the child being seriously injured or even killed if the vehicle crashes. If the child is wearing bulky winter clothing, it is safer to remove it before buckling them into their car seat so that the harness can be securely tightened. You can always place a blanket or coat over the seat once they are buckled in place. 

Teen drivers may want to get together with friends during the holiday break from school. Allow them to drive only as many friends as are allowed by state law. Many graduated license programs only allow family members to ride with new teen drivers until they have more experience. The biggest threat to an inexperienced teen driver is the number of peers riding as passengers because they are distracting. Use the holiday break to get in additional hours of supervised driving with your teen so they can learn about driving in inclement weather and holiday traffic.

Reviewing safety tips for driving can keep you safe during the holidays and year-round. You can enjoy your holiday knowing you will be doing your part to keep the roads safe for everyone.

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Fight for Clients Injured by Negligent Drivers

There is no holiday for the duty of care that a driver owes to others around them. When a driver exhibits negligent behavior that causes others harm, they should be held accountable. If you have been injured in a car accident, the experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. can help. Our legal team will advocate to obtain the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us at 267-861-7100 or visit our website to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Norristown.