Safety Tips for Holiday Driving

Safety Tips for Holiday Driving

In a year that’s moved more slowly than most, it can be hard to believe it’s almost the holiday season. This year, celebrations will look a little different, with many events scaled back or placed on hold. Still, it’s likely most folks will experience a little extra hustle and bustle over the coming months—making a road trip to visit family, driving out late to look at lights or even just navigating the extra-crowded grocery store parking lot.

So, as you begin to plan your fall and winter celebrations, it’s helpful to keep safety in mind. Here are some tips to see you safely through the holiday season.

Never drink and drive.

Holiday gatherings make it easy to imbibe, but if you’re planning to consume alcohol, be sure you’ve designated a driver or will take a rideshare home. More than 10,000 people die each year in drunk-driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even a blood alcohol concentration of just .05—well below the legal limit—can result in impaired judgment, lowered alertness and reduced coordination. At .08, the threshold for DUIs in Georgia, drivers may have short-term memory loss, trouble concentrating and challenges controlling vehicle speed.

Watch the weather.

Temperatures may drop suddenly in Georgia, often after a rain. Unfortunately, when wet roads freeze, black ice can sometimes develop—even here in Middle Georgia. Black ice is often impossible to see, but use extra caution when driving on bridges or overpasses. Before heading out, check the forecast for dips in temperature. Make sure you keep your car stocked with jumper cables, warm clothes, good shoes, a flashlight, blankets, water and food.

Be aware of late nights.

During the winter months, days are shorter, and evening dinners and gatherings may place drivers on the road well after dark. Driving in the dark is simply more challenging, especially as drivers age. According to the National Safety Council, visibility with normal headlights drops to about 250 feet in the nighttime, leaving drivers with less time to react. Depth perception, glare from other vehicles and narrowed peripheral vision can also pose challenges. If you’re out at night, drive more slowly and dim your dash. If you’re also up late, the risks are greater. Drowsy drivers are three times as likely to be in a car crash.

As you enjoy the holiday season, it’s smart to take a little extra time to plan safe outings for the family. Be sure your car is in good repair, with working headlights, fresh wiper blades and properly inflated tires. If you have kids, check to make sure their child safety restraints are correct for their size and age. (Also, be aware of puffy coats or bulky jackets when buckling them in—both can cause a car seat harness to not fit properly.) Taking time to plan what events you’ll attend and how to travel safely will hopefully not only keep you safe this season, but result in a more peaceful, restful holiday as well.

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