Technology experts say we’re closer to having autonomous vehicles than ever before, but until that day arrives, driving during the holidays will be a time when greater vigilance is needed. Think of all the distractions: With family celebrations, parties with friends, and shopping/to-do lists, this is one of the most stress-filled times of the year to be behind the wheel. At AAA, we urge you to drive safely. Here’s what you can do:
• Stay focused. Resist the temptation to answer or make phone calls while driving. Never text while driving, and try to minimize other distractions, such as eating on the run or checking holiday shopping lists.
• Avoid driving while drowsy. Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue. A 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers missing two or three hours of sleep, compared with getting the recommended seven hours of sleep, more than quadrupled their risk of a crash.
• If you drink, don’t drive. And don’t let your friends or family drink and drive. If you’re hosting a party, take steps to help your guests stay safe.
• Wear your seat belt. Doing so reduces the risk of being fatally injured in a car crash by 45 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And don’t forgo the seat belt if you’re sitting in the back seat. Many people, especially those who take taxis and ride-hailing services, assume the back seat is safer than the front, but the Governors Highway Safety Association has found that rear seat passengers are three times more likely to die in a crash if unbelted.
Arriving safely at your destination is the greatest gift you can give your loved ones. All of us here at AAA wish you the best during this joyful time of year. Have a happy — and safe — holiday season.