By Marcus Fernandez
Regardless of your age, there is something special about the holiday season. Festive lights and decorations along with the anticipation of getting together with family and friends makes the holiday season a truly special time of the year. And that’s what makes these December driving tips so important.
The number of people driving to stores for decorations and presents adds to the volume of traffic produced by holiday travelers on their way to visit relatives. According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, extended time on the road combined with excessive speed and alcohol consumption make the holiday season a particularly dangerous time of year as evidenced by a 7% increase in traffic fatalities.
Whether your plans for the holidays are to stay close to home or drive to another state, your goal should be to keep yourself and your passengers safe. The following December driving tips apply all-year-round.
Stay focused and concentrate on driving
December driving tip #1: stay focused.There is so much that needs to get done during the holidays that it’s only natural for your mind to be occupied with thoughts about where you need to go and what must be accomplished when you get there. However, once you get behind the wheel of your car, all of your attention needs to be on driving.
People who claim to have the ability to multitask while driving are merely clinging to a myth. It has been proven that the human brain focuses on only one task at a time. What someone perceives as multitasking is actually the brain toggling between tasks.
The toggling happens so rapidly that a person may be fooled into thinking they are doing two things at once. The truth is that both tasks suffer because the brain is not focused on either one of them, so stay off the cellphone, limit conversation with passengers, and concentrate on driving.
Do not drive when impaired
Driver impairment increases the risk of an accident, but it’s not only alcohol that impairs the ability of a driver to safely control a vehicle. Prescription and non-prescription drugs can affect a driver’s judgment, vision, and coordination to impair the ability to safely operate a vehicle.
If you believe that your ability to drive is impaired by drugs or alcohol, any one of the following options is preferable to getting behind the wheel:
- Appoint a designated driver ahead of time.
- Call a taxi or rideshare service.
- Use a bus, train or other available means of public transportation.
If you are at someone’s home, it is better to ask to spend the night than risk driving while impaired.
Get plenty of rest
Traveling long distances can take a toll particularly when you may already be tired from all the shopping, gift wrapping and the other activities you had to accomplish before heading out. Driving while fatigued is as dangerous as driving while impaired, so if you feel tired, pull off at a rest area or other safe place and rest before continuing your trip.
Know where you are going
If you are unsure about how to get to your destination, look up the directions before you start driving. Trying to program a GPS device while driving is a distraction and should be avoided.
Prepare for the weather
When you live in Tampa, an ice scraper is not something you would normally have in your vehicle. If your holiday travels will take you to colder climates, prepare your vehicle by bringing the following:
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Small shovel or broom
Check tread depth and replace any tires that are worn beyond the recommended tread depth. This applies whether driving in snow, rain or on icy surfaces.
If it’s been a while since you drove in winter-weather conditions and you encounter snow or ice, slow down. Avoid making quick turns or lane changes that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
Use car seats when traveling with young children
When traveling with children, make certain each child is securely buckled in place. Children should use a booster or car seat when appropriate based on their age and size.
Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination
Plan on encountering traffic delays during the holidays, so give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Don’t forget to include time for bathroom stops and food along the way on long trips.
Help is available when accidents happen
No matter how safety conscious you may be, it cannot account for the negligence of other drivers. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident this holiday season, a Tampa personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation.