Holiday Safety Tips for Drivers

The holiday season is a time full of joy and cheer, but it also brings serious driving challenges. From increased traffic to inclement weather conditions, there are a number of driving hazards you might encounter.

Follow these tips to stay safe on the road whether you’re embarking on a winter road trip or celebrating the season close to home. 

Holiday Driving: What Are the Dangers?

Weather hazards

If you’re heading up north in search of colder weather, you’ll need to be extra cautious on the roads. Snow and ice can be extremely hazardous for drivers. In fact, about one-fourth of all weather-related accidents occur on icy or snowy roads according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Intoxicated drivers

New Year’s Eve is often seen as the culprit of holiday drunk driving accidents, but in reality, there’s a spike in crashes throughout the entire holiday season. According to the National Safety Council, around 29% of traffic fatalies around Thanksgiving of 2019 involved an impaired driver. Around Christmas, that percentage rose to 38%.

Distracted drivers

Distracted driving is a year-round problem, but the number of distracted drivers tends to increase as the holidays come around. Whether they’re checking store hours, searching for directions, or texting holiday messages, drivers may not be paying full attention to the road.   

Drowsy drivers

For many people, the holidays mean more activities and more stress, both of which can interfere with a normal sleep schedule. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that sleep-deprived drivers had a much high chance of being involved in an accident:

  • Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
  • Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
  • Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
  • Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

Safety Tips to Follow This Season

Don’t drink in drive

You should never, ever drink and drive. If you plan to enjoy some holiday refreshments, make sure to choose a designated driver ahead of time that won’t be consuming any alcohol.

Check weather conditions 

Winter weather can change in an instant, so no matter where you’re headed, be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave the house. If you’re going somewhere snowy, pack the appropriate gear, like snow chains for your tires. Icy weather may also lead to black ice—one of the most dangerous winter road conditions. Before you start driving, make sure you understand how to spot it. 

Drive defensively

Not all drivers will be on their best behavior, so it’s up to you to put your own safety first. Don’t assume drivers are going to do the right thing, always scan your surroundings, and never try to compete with aggressive holiday drivers. 

Watch your speed

From last minute gift shopping to holiday road trips, there are many situations in which you might be tempted to speed this season. But the faster you go, the more likely you are to get into a fatal accident. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination so you don’t feel rushed. 

Headed on a Holiday Trip? Keep These Items in Your Car.

You never know what might happen as you drive through wintry weather. In case of an emergency, make sure you keep these items in your car:

  • De-icer windshield fluid 
  • Ice scrapers
  • Flashlights
  • Spare tire
  • Tire chains for mountains and snowy roads
  • Extra clothing to keep warm, such as blankets, gloves, hats, and scarves
  • First aid kit
  • Road maps in case of GPS failure

Want to learn more about how to stay safe on the road, this season and year round? Stop and Go Driving School is your go-to resource for driving knowledge. Register for one of our Driver’s Education and Defensive Driving courses today.