Beware The Holiday Spike – 3 Safe Driving Tips to Help You Survive the Holidays

According to AAA, about 95 Million Americans will hit the road (and the skies) this Holiday Season.

We all Need to Beware of – the Holiday Spike!

“We’re late for the Party” Holiday Spike_small

“We’re gonna miss the big sale!”

“I’m fine, I only had a few” 

“It can’t happen to me”

“I’m an excellent driver”

These statements read like ghosts from Holidays Past. They are the situations that many of us put ourselves into at this time of year and the results are – The Holiday Spike!

What is The Holiday Spike?
It’s the statistical rise in car crashes, injuries and fatalities that occurs every Holiday Season. The numbers vary depending on gas prices and miles driven, but on average, fatalities rise anywhere from 10% – 300% at this time of year!

Did you know? 2 of the 10 Deadliest Days of the Year are Jan 1 (#5) and December 23rd (#3).

Upward graphNow, you can understand New Year’s Day
(beginning with New Year’s Eve) at #5,
but December 23rd – two days before Christmas –
is historically the
3rd deadliest day of the year on the road!

 December 23rd – really?
What are the reasons, you may ask?

The most obvious is, of course,
a little too much ‘Holiday Cheer.’

 We all must face the fact that our judgment becomes impaired after even 1-2 drinks, rendering our ability to determine if we’re “okay to drive”  – completely invalid!

Government statistics estimate that over 10,000 traffic fatalities (about 30%) involve an impaired driver. As if that weren’t sobering enough, the attorneys at have some even more sobering facts on their website:

Average cost of a DUI, (even a first offense) – about $5,000 – $12,000!
Average cost of a cab ride                                         – about 25 bucks.

A good rule of thumb is this – when there is doubt, there is no doubt. Call a cab (or Uber or Lyft if you prefer.)

 Okay, so I know all of you reading this are much too smart to drink and drive. What are some of the other reasons for The Spike? 

  1. Poor Time Management. Speed is the leading cause of crashes and fatalities, and failure to manage your time effectively is a major contributing factor. Before you ‘floor it’ to make up time, ask yourself; is it better to be a few minutes late, or to become known as the “late” (your name here)?
  2. Too Much Attitude. Here is the best-kept secret in driver training. Attitude is the key to Driving Defensively. Check your attitude at the (car) door and become like Mr. Spock behind the wheel – completely unemotional.

Somebody flips you the bird? Laugh and wave to them (try it – most of the time they’ll be embarrassed, think they might actually know you, and wave back).

Somebody cuts you off? Don’t “get even” – just “get away.” That driver stands a good chance of landing in the Hospital or the Morgue. Just make sure they don’t take you with them.

  1. Driving Distracted. Let’s get this straight – Multi-Tasking is a Myth!
    Studies have shown conclusively that the human brain works sequentially, not simultaneously. If you’re doing 2 things at once, (and they aren’t simple tasks like walking and chewing gum), you are doing both things BADLY!

You can see proof of this at

Just as the reasons for The Spike are fairly simple, so are the solutions
Here are 3 Safe Driving Tips to avoid it

  1. Leave Early! Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi had a philosophy that if you aren’t 15 minutes early – you’re late. Adopt the “Lombardi Time” schedule and you will become much safer behind the wheel (and less stressed in general)
  2. Stay Calm! Once again, the key is Attitude. Here are a couple of techniques to maintain a safe driving attitude:

Anticipate stupidity – that way when the inevitable happens, it won’t surprise you. The offending driver will just be living up to your expectations.

Reframe – imagine that the offending driver is on their way to an emergency, and has a valid reason for driving like a fool.

Refocus – remember that the only important thing is for you and your passengers to arrive alive – and in one piece.

  1. Shut Up and Drive! You’re too important to die today!
    Put the phone in the trunk or the glove box before you drive. Cell phones and TWD (texting while driving) have become an epidemic on our roads. There is nothing that comes out of that phone that can’t wait, or is anywhere near as important as you are.

If you’re from another planet, this may not apply to you, but if you have a human brain, you cannot handle talking on your phone or texting and driving at the same time.

Bonus tip: Be courteous and yield the right of way to another driver. Doing this puts you in more control, and you will be amazed at how happy you make other drivers when you let them go first.

Happy and Safe Holidays to all!

Think You’re a Good Driver?
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by Bob Ragazzo

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