Unexpected events can create unexpected consequences. With New Year’s Eve included on everyone’s list of the top five most dangerous driving holidays, the end of the year marks one of the busiest and most deadly travel times. You need to be prepared for whatever driving experiences may come your way.
Drivers who stake out their lanes and refuse to yield to others to allow passing or merging can be almost as hazardous as someone who tailgates, speeds, cuts other drivers off or is distracted behind the wheel. While all of these behaviors are an everyday occurrence on America’s roads, it’s how you react to them that’s important. Do you allow yourself to get angry at what other drivers “should” be doing, or do you adjust your driving to safely deal with their rude behavior? Do you slow down to avoid erratic drivers? Do you get annoyed when someone honks or yells at you for no apparent reason? Dangerous drivers cannot “make” you angry and “cause” you to respond in kind. That’s your decision and you will be a much safer driver if you stay alert and don’t respond to the ignorance of others.
Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians
During the holiday season, more drivers are out and about shopping, making their holiday preparations or traveling to and from holiday parties, concerts, volunteer work and family gatherings. Delivery vehicles also crowd roadways much more than usual. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates long-distance travel increases by as much as 23% during the December holiday period. Once you’re on the road, whether in a city or on a highway, you have to be alert to the problems this increased traffic will cause. Out-of-town visitors may be unfamiliar with the area, so keep a safe distance from vehicles making sudden moves and stops, because the lost driver may be on a cell phone or attempting to read directions. Also, watch for pedestrians in the streets, as well as in parking lots. When they’re not paying attention, you have to be, especially when you’re making a turn and pedestrians are in the crosswalks.
When the Weather Turns
One of the surest ways to avoid being involved in an adverse weather accident is to increase the space and time that you have to maneuver your vehicle. In other words, give yourself room to react. Whenever possible, drive in the open, staying away from packs of vehicles to gain extra space. Slow down and back off if you’re catching up to a cluster of traffic. Try to stay in your lane and protect your blind side to reduce sideswipes from other vehicles. Increase your following distance to a minimum of eight seconds and, in more severe conditions, to at least twelve seconds. You are the professional on the road and the most important things you can do to be safer when you’re behind the wheel are to keep your distance, keep your wits about you and SLOW DOWN!