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Safety Pro

Don't Take a Holiday When Driving

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11/01/2011 - Thanksgiving starts the peak travel for holidays. Everyone seems to want to be somewhere they aren't to visit family and friends who live somewhere else. I keep thinking one day I'll travel to Oregon to surprise friends while they are traveling to here to surprise me!

Weather is always a factor this time of the year, whether on the road or in the air. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle accidents go up in number and severity during this time of year. And, it's that way every year, no matter how many times we are reminded of safe driving practices. So in the event that these reminders do, in fact, save you and yours from life-ending incidents, here are my Top Ten.

1. Be courteous. Exercising courtesy can reduce your potential of doing something stupid that gets you and the other driver hurt or killed and it also lowers your own stress level – being courteous is good for your heart and your life!

2. Don't tailgate. You may think you are that good, but you're not, and neither is the one you are tailgating. I remember riding with a friend and his father (I was in the back seat) with a tailgater right behind us. It happened to be a dual-axle dump truck which, of course, was loaded. My friend's father simply stated, 'I'm gonna teach this guy a lesson' and slammed on the brakes. Talk about a laundry moment for me and the truck driver! Stupid is as stupid does. Don't be stupid.

3. Reduce speeds. The speed limit may be 55 but snow, ice, and black ice means you don't do the speed limit. Even if the roads are clear, 30% of all motor vehicle fatalities are a direct result of excessive speed.

4. Wear your seatbelt. Hard to believe that in the 2008 Thanksgiving traffic events, 67% (more than 1 in 3) fatalities involved not wearing a seatbelt!

5. Fatigue is a major concern when traveling long distances. Being tired while driving increases frustration levels and increases the chances of trying to take a risk you normally wouldn't take. Recent studies have shown that more than 75% of drivers have at one time 'dosed off' while driving, making them just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

6. Don't drive after (or while) drinking alcohol.

7. Texting while driving – really – we actually have to state this? Again, stupid is as stupid does!

8. Adjust your schedule, if possible. Don't drive or fly home Sunday night after the football game when everyone else is doing the same thing. Talk about raising the stress levels.

9. Check the weather and time of day before leaving and adjust your trip times, as necessary. Dusk brings cooler temperatures and wildlife, known as roadkill.

10. Keep your children safely secured in booster seats and seatbelts. Letting them lie on the seat to sleep is comfortable, but it turns them into a flying missile when you hit or are hit by something.

Randy DeVaul is a 30-year safety professional and emergency response instructor. Comments are always welcome at safetypro@roadrunner.com.

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