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Monday, November 21, 2011

Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas

For those with long commutes to work and back and those who drive very little, the driving situation during the holidays can be a nightmarish situation. The holiday season is supposed to be about peace on earth and kindness to others but it seems that, once drivers get caught up in the holiday shopping rush, all of that goes out the window and it is every man for himself. To help you cope with the holiday driving situation and keep you safe on the road, here are a few reminders.

Planning – High gasoline prices have led many to consolidate trips to save money. That is also a good tip for the holiday season:
  • Create and try to stick to a shopping list for everyone on your gift giving list. You'll spend less time and money if you know exactly what you are after. Try to avoid browsing that will lead to impulse buying and keep you out longer.
  • Shopping online can help you avoid going out into traffic. You can also order items online for pick-up at your local store so you can do a quick in –pickup – and out.
  • Try to get all your shopping done in one or two days; that way you can relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday season.
  • Shop early! Retailers are trying to lure customers with early sales so they aren't stuck with a left over inventory.
  • Plan on being stuck in traffic and allow yourself plenty of extra time. That way, you won't be tempted to take chances behind the wheel and you won't be as frustrated.

Dealing with other drivers – The frenetic pace of the holiday season seems to bring out the worst in some drivers. Don't let a "Grinch" driver get to you.
  • It seems as if no other time of the year results in as many clogged intersections. When drivers pull out into a clogged intersection and the light changes, everyone is stuck. If you can't clear the intersection, remain behind the white stop line until the traffic ahead moves enough that you can get all the way across. Remember, if you are stuck in the intersection when the light changes, you could get an automatic ticket from a red light camera.
  • Remember that you can't take the right-of-way; you can only give it up to another driver. If someone tries to hog the right-of-way, give it to them. Fighting for the right-of-way or a parking spot isn't worth the possibility of a collision or a road rage incident.
  • Don't try to retaliate against another driver by yelling, making gestures, or honking your horn. That type of behavior could tip someone over the edge into a road rage situation.
  • Remember the F.I.D.O. principle. Forget It and Drive On. There is nothing you can do to change another driver's behavior. Just let it go and keep out of their way.

Pedestrians – There will be a lot of pedestrians in parking lots and on the roads at this time of year.
  • Remember that pedestrians always have the right-of-way.
  • Small children are excited and even more impulsive at this time of year. Anticipate that they may run out into traffic.
  • Pedestrians may be bundled up against the cold. Hats, mufflers and scarves may interfere with vision and hearing. Count on pedestrians not noticing your approach.

Distractions – As if the driving situation isn't bad enough during the holiday season, distracted drivers make it worse.
  • It is understood that you are in a rush, but try to avoid eating in the car while driving. Trying to eat and drink distracts us from the very important job of watching the road ahead. Giving yourself time to eat in a restaurant will allow you to relax and calm down before going back out into traffic.
  • Put the cell phone away! Don't try to use your cell phone and especially don't text unless you are pulled safely off the road. Cell phone users tend to slow traffic and you don’t want to add to the congestion.

Have a happy and, above all, a safe holiday season with your loved ones.

To learn more about driver safety and education please visit our Driver Safety Alerts at http://www.nationalsafetycommission.com.

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