The Holidays Turn Tragic for Many Drivers – 3 Tips for Staying Safe

 car-crash-ambulance-istock_000020422562_extrasmall“We’re late for the Party”

“We’re gonna miss the big sale!”

“I’m okay to drive, I only had a few”

“That can’t happen to me”

“I’m an excellent driver”

“Nobody drives my car, but me”

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 often tragic.

Compound these issues with a huge increase in traffic, and the results are predictable.

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

Now 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 show that nearly 10,000 traffic fatalities (about 31%) involve an alcohol-impaired driver. http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving Even if none of the above concerns you, consider this:

The average cost of a DUI (even a first offense)                  – $5,000 – $12,000
The average cost of a cab ride                                                         – about $25

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

Okay, so I know that all of you reading this are much too smart to drink and drive, however… Drinking and Driving is only one of the Holiday pitfalls we need to avoid.

Here are 3 Tips to keep you safe on the road:

  1. Leave Early! Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi had a philosophy – 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! The key to Safe Driving is Attitude. Here are a couple of techniques to maintain a safe attitude behind the wheel:

a. Anticipate stupidity – other drivers will cut you off and drive recklessly– you can count on it. Don’t get mad; don’t get even – just get away!

b. Reframe – imagine that the offending driver is on their way to an emergency, and has a valid reason for endangering themselves and everyone else on the road.

c. Refocus – remember that the most important thing is for you and your passengers to arrive alive – that is your goal.

  1. Stay Focused on Driving!

Put the phone away (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 your phone that can’t wait. Before you answer that call, text, or tweet – ask yourself – is this message worth dying for?

Bonus tip: In the Spirit of the Holidays, be courteous and yield the right of way to another driver. You will be amazed at how many people are surprised and delighted by this. (FYI – it puts you in control of the situation.)

Happy and Safe Holidays to all!

by Bob Ragazzo

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