With Thanksgiving already behind us, we approach the final stretch of 2016 with another major holiday, Christmas. And that means more people on the roads. During the period between Christmas and New Year’s day, the number of long-distance trips increases by 23%, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics report on U.S. Holiday Travel. More trips mean more time spent on the roads, and that can mean a denser commute.

While there are limitations to what we can avoid, the key to safety is often prevention. Here are five steps you can take with you on the road to ensure that you enjoy your holiday season safely:

Wear your seatbelt. While this may be a tune often heard, it’s important to not forget that the factor that may determine a life-and-death situation for you and your family is a seatbelt. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2.4 million individuals suffered from nonfatal injuries as a cause of a car accident in 2014. Those hospitalized experienced an average medical and work loss cost of $178,505. Seat belts reduce severe injuries caused by car accidents by about half, according to the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Isaac Newton may not have been speaking about seat belts when he developed his law of inertia, but we could all learn a lesson from him. Your first line of defense in a car accident is that strap around your chest and waist. It takes only seconds to secure a seat belt, but it could make all the difference in a car accident.

Drive for the weather. For many, the holidays are as picturesque as Norman Rockwell’s depictions. For Floridians in the Tampa Bay region, we can only hope for temperatures below 70°. Either way, weather changes in winter can mean different driving conditions and shorter days. Add to that an influx of motorists on our highways, and you’ve got some ingredients for an accident. If you’re expecting more traffic and have to drive slower, try hitting the road sooner. Not only will some extra time save your patience and sanity, but you may be more likely to make it to your destination safely. If you’ll be driving in unfamiliar terrain, be sure to brush up on driving techniques you’ll need to know. Not only will you fit in like a local, but you may be able to avoid an accident caused by unpredictable conditions. With a little proactive planning, you’ll be ready to enjoy your holiday celebrations while staying safe.

Keep your cool this winter. Stress is inevitable, especially during the holiday season. Although the holidays are meant to be a time of peace and joy, we all know that obligations and errands can weigh us down. Whether it’s seeing your Aunt Muriel, shopping for those last-minute gifts, or the common work-life balance struggle, stress not only affects your mood and health, but also your driving. Stress can distract drivers from the road, and that could put you, your family, and other families on the road in danger. Before the holiday weighs too heavy on you while you’re on the highway, be sure to take a deep breath and take some time for yourself. We’re just a few weeks away from 2017.

Know your limits. We’re only human and capable of so much, and yet, we often fall short of our own expectations. To ensure that you’re as focused and safe as possible while traveling during the holidays, don’t neglect sleep. Fatigue can decrease your reaction time and attention to the road. While no festivity would be complete without a little libation, the time of year doesn’t excuse irresponsible driving. In 2014, about one-third of all deaths related to traffic were alcohol-related, according to the NHTSA. The simple solution to a probable tragedy is to not drink and drive. Since even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely, it’s best to leave the job to a designated driver.

Plan ahead. Between daily rush hour commutes and quick meals on-the-go, it’s easy to forget that your vehicle is a machine that needs constant maintenance. Before traveling a long distance these holidays, make sure you’re up-to-date with your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Start a list and check it twice: tires, brakes, lights, spare tire, windshield wiper fluid, oil, fuel, and so on. Doing so will keep your car working at its top performance for your holiday travels. And whether you’re using Google Maps, Waze, or a printed Atlas, plan your route before your drive or designate a passenger to guide your path. While you’re stacking your duffel bags, gifts, and luggage in your vehicle, double-check that you have an adequate emergency kit that would be easily accessible in case you need it. It’s better to be proactive than reactive in a possibly life-threatening situation.

While we at Dolman Law Group hope you have a safe holiday season, we want you to know that we’re here for you if things don’t go the best. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have experienced personal injury attorneys who will evaluate your case for free. We’ve handled hundreds of car accident cases with the care and sensitivity they each need.

At Dolman Law Group, we focus on providing you quality representation rather than increasing the quantity of our clientele; this is part of our Dolman Law Difference. We look forward to helping you and your loved ones recover physically, emotionally, and financially. For a free consultation, call us today at (727) 853-6275 or email us on our Contact Us page.

From the Dolman Law Group family to yours, we wish you safe and happy holidays, this year and next!

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275