It’s no secret that the roads are crowded during the holiday season, as people hurry to holiday parties, travel to visit family, and rush to fit in all of their shopping. The increased business, combined with factors like stressed drivers, poor weather conditions, and unfortunately more drinking and driving, means that everyone should be extra cautious on the road.
When planning to hit the road, whether for a road trip to see family or even just to hit the market for more eggnog, give yourself enough time to account for busier roads and poor weather. Leave earlier than you think you’ll need to, in case rush hour traffic or a snow-blocked road unexpectedly delay you. Check the forecast, and if snow or heavy rain are predicted, plan accordingly so you can pick the right time and route to be driving.
Be flexible and try to remain calm: although it’s meant to be a joyous time, the pressures of the season often lead to people driving more aggressively, from speeding to unsafe lane changes and weaving. You may get stuck in traffic or be slowed by a weather condition, but don’t let frustration make you drive recklessly to make up lost time – better to arrive late than risk injury to yourself or other passengers.
Fatigued driving is also on the rise this time of year, as people try to pack more social events, work, and everyday duties into their schedules; sleep often suffers as a result. People are far more likely to get into an accident when they’re sleep deprived – studies show that people who get 5 hours of sleep or less per night are four times as likely – so don’t get on the road if you’re too tired to drive. If you find yourself getting tired as you go, take a break! Pull over, walk around, rest for a while, whatever it takes to refresh yourself to drive safely.
Drunk driving rates go up during this time of year, too, thanks to the number of holiday parties. If you’re planning to drink, do so responsibly while eating food and drinking plenty of water, and waiting until you’re sober to get back on the road – even a buzz is enough to impair your driving. Having a designated driver, or calling a cab if you’re not sure you’re sober enough to drive are also essential options that everyone should keep in mind. Don’t just worry about your own driving, however: be extra cautious of everyone on the road. Cars going too slowly or too fast, or that seem to be weaving, may have a drunk or fatigued driver behind the wheel; get out of their way and call the police. It’s up to everyone to keep roads safe during the holidays.