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Staying Safe Behind the Wheel During the Holidays

holiday driving

The holiday season is here, and drivers everywhere are getting ready to celebrate the festivities with their loved ones. Some families are planning small get-togethers in the same towns where they reside, while others are preparing for long road trips to reunite with friends and family out of state. Regardless of the type of celebration you have in mind, you can help keep yourself and your passengers safe by being aware that there are a few more obstacles to contend with on the road during this time of year. Inclement weather, stress and fatigue, intoxicated drivers, and heavy traffic are all factors that are more prominent during the holiday season, but fortunately, you can do your part in keeping the roads safe by keeping the following driving tips in mind:

Be Prepared for Changing Weather Conditions

During this time of year, weather conditions can change rapidly and intensely. Ensuring that your vehicle is winter-ready by switching to snow tires, getting your vehicle serviced and inspected, and/or building a thorough auto-emergency kit before you depart will help you be prepared to safely drive in snowy, icy, and frigid conditions. Additionally, being aware of expected weather forecasts in all areas that you plan to drive through will prevent the stress that results from getting caught off guard by inclement weather. Knowing that a steep mountain pass is likely to be covered in snow may help you make the decision to pull over for the night. You could then continue your journey during the day when the roads are less likely to be icy and the visibility is better. 

Leave Early with Traffic in Mind

The day before and the day after a major holiday, as well as the Sunday following a holiday, tend to be busy traffic times, so keep this in mind when you are planning your itinerary. Even if you are able to leave early and beat the worst of traffic jams, you will fare best if you expect to run into at least a few delays when traveling during this time of year. This can help you plan accordingly and prevent the temptation to speed, and it can also help you mentally prepare for congested roads. Having snacks and water on board, as well as preparing some fun road trip games to play with your passengers if you run into stand-still traffic, can help keep frustration to a minimum. 

Assess Your Teen Driver’s Skill Level 

As mentioned above, obstacles on the road tend to increase during the holidays, and teen drivers who are inexperienced with holiday or cold-weather driving may need to gradually adjust to the changing conditions. If your newly licensed motorist has never driven during this season, it may be a good idea to help him/her practice and acclimate to the experience before being allowed to drive unsupervised. A defensive driving class also serves as an excellent opportunity for young drivers to gain experience and competency in handling skids, avoiding hazards, and learning precision driving techniques. These are all important skills that have the potential to save lives during emergency situations. 

Research Whether Your Teen’s Learners Permit Is Valid in Other States

Road trips can serve as excellent opportunities for your student driver to log practice hours behind the wheel, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every state honors out-of-state learners permits. Researching the DMV laws of each state that you’ll be passing through can help you plan when and where to allow your adolescent to take over the driver’s seat without running the risk of violating any traffic regulations.  

Avoid Drowsy, Emotional, and Intoxicated Driving

Motorists should always avoid driving while drowsy, emotional, or intoxicated, but it’s important to emphasize this sentiment during this time of year, as the holiday season tends to see an uptick in all types of impaired driving. This is a time when the importance of family and charity are emphasized, but preparing for the holidays while also juggling day-to-day responsibilities can leave drivers tired and stressed out. Fatigue and emotional upheaval can lead to distracted and aggressive driving, so if you find yourself feeling drained or frantic, try to postpone your travels until you are alert and calm. 

This season also tends to bring an increase in events where alcohol is present, such as family gatherings, office parties, and community festivals. Driving while intoxicated poses a danger to yourself and others, and the legal consequences of DUIs are quite hefty. If you do plan to consume alcohol at a celebratory event, it’s best to figure out a sober ride home in advance. In addition to ride services such as Lyft and Uber, many communities offer free public transportation or taxi services during the holidays to help keep the roads safe. These options are most common during New Year’s Eve, but some communities and businesses offer free rides during all of the major holidays. For example, the Sawaya Law Firm here in Colorado states on their website that they will reimburse individuals up to $35 for taking a cab home during the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. By researching holiday transportation programs in your local area, you can discover resources that will allow you to enjoy the holiday parties without worrying about how you will get home.  

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this information provides you with a few actionable ideas on how to stay safe and stress-free while on the road this holiday season. By researching expected weather conditions, leaving early with realistic expectations, ensuring that your teen is skillfully and legally able to drive during your trip, and committing to being an alert, calm, and sober motorist, you will help ensure that your holiday travels unfold safely and seamlessly. Here at DriveSafe Driving Schools, we wish you a very happy and peace-filled holiday season!

DriveSafe Can Help You Stay Safe on the Road All Year Round!

As the largest and most trusted driving school in Colorado, DriveSafe has helped thousands of students gain the skills necessary to become safe drivers for life. We are passionate about helping our students learn how to make safe choices as motorists, and we surpass the Colorado DMV standards to ensure that our curriculum is as impactful as possible. Whether you’re looking for a traditional drivers education course, online drivers ed options, or a defensive driving class, we can help! 

Sign up for one of our courses today, or get in touch with any questions. We look forward to helping you reach your behind-the-wheel goals!

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