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The holidays are times when family and friends are gathering together, businesses are hosting holiday parties, and kids are coming home from college. All these factors contribute to a significant increase in traffic on our roadways.

The festive nature of the holiday season provides us with some temptations that could lead to a dangerous driving situation. The obvious problem is alcohol consumption that usually goes along with family gatherings, after work parties, and special events. This makes the holidays one of the deadliest times of the year for alcohol-related crashes.

During the holiday season, auto accidents significantly increase due to more people on the roadways – time off work, cross-country traveling, holiday shopping, and gatherings with friends and family. The most contributing factors to auto accidents during this festive time of year are fatigue, drunk driving, speeding, distractions, and wintry weather conditions.

No matter what blend of holiday traditions you choose, add a bit of safety and a pinch of caution to the mix for a perfect recipe for a safe holiday season. Here are a few tips to help drivers safely navigate not only through the holidays, but through the winter season.

  • Always wear your seat belt. Do not start the vehicle until all passengers are safely buckled and use car safety seats for children.
  • Drive defensively. Stay alert, and focus on the big picture. Keep your eyes focused on scanning what’s up ahead of you, not just the area immediately around you.
  • Do not follow too closely. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, especially in inclement weather.
  • Avoid driving in another vehicle’s blind spot. Be especially aware of the large blind spot danger zones behind, in front and to the sides of large commercial vehicles.
  • Avoid driving during the early and late evening hours on holidays
  • Avoid distractions such as talking on the phone, texting, eating, changing the radio.
  • Stay alert and avoid driving while drowsy or fatigued. Holiday get-togethers, lack of sleep and shorter hours of daylight make drivers more at risk of drowsiness. Get adequate rest, take frequent breaks, allow additional travel time, and split up driving time with a passenger.
  • Avoid drinking (no matter how little) and driving. Alcohol is the most common cause of auto accidents during the holidays. Designate a driver in advance who will not drink.
  • In an attempt to squeeze more activities into their hectic schedule, drivers tend to speed. Plan ahead and allow ample time to safely reach your destination.

Be extra cautious in inclement weather, including rain, fog, snow, and black ice. Weather can make driving hazardous for motorists.

  • Make sure your vehicle is stocked with a “winter survival kit” – ice/snow scraper, blankets, warm clothing and gloves, spare tire, antifreeze, non-perishable food items, first aid kit, and a cell phone charger, to name a few.
  • Take extra time to clear your vehicle from snow and ice build-up and allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Decrease your speed and leave plenty of room to stop. Brake gently to avoid skidding and accelerate slowly to avoid loss of traction and control. Turn slowly, with caution, to avoid sliding.
  • Always be alert to the possibility of “black ice” when temperatures are near or below freezing. Remember, it takes longer to stop on ice.
  • Don’t use your cruise control or overdrive in slick conditions, and remember that four- and all-wheel drive will not help you to steer or stop better when the roads are icy.

Is there any safety advice that has worked well for you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Mark M. Bello is an attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. He is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation, a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.

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