Here's to a Safe and Happy Holidays
For many, the holidays are often a time for celebrating traditions, like picking out a Christmas tree and visiting with friends and family. While traveling on roadways pose risks any time of year, dangerous conditions and crashes are most prevalent during the holidays. It’s imperative to continue safe driving skills and plan ahead for risky driving behaviors as we venture on the roadway.
With an increase of travelers on the roadways, the risk of distracted driving increases. Texting while driving is one of the most concerning distractions. Drivers who are focused on sending or reading a text can take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. Furthermore, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distraction "latency" can last up to 27 seconds, meaning that even after drivers put down the phone or stop fiddling with the navigation system, their mind isn't fully engaged with the task of driving.
Every year, more than 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2018, there were nearly 300 drunk-driving-related fatalities during the Christmas and New Year periods. But many substances can impair driving, such as alcohol, prescription and some over-the-counter drugs, and illegal drugs. These substances can impair your ability to drive because they slow your coordination, judgment, and reaction times.
In a nationwide effort to prevent multiple-substance impaired driving, AAA has partnered with Responsibility.org and the Governors Highway Safety Association to launch the National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (NASID). Multiple-substance impaired driving has been an escalating issue as more drivers are using a mix of drugs and alcohol prior to driving. NASID’s focus will include implementing laws, programs, and technology that can help detect, deter, and stop impaired driving.
To minimize the risks of driving this holiday, be sure to minimize any distractions that could interfere with driving, such as putting your phone away and never text and drive, getting your GPS, seats, and mirrors adjusted, and making sure children and pets are settled before getting underway. Additionally, make smart decisions by designating a sober driver or calling a ride-hailing service, like Uber or Lyft, and plan how you’ll get home safely.
Wishing you and your family a happy holiday and safe travels!