The holidays are some of the best times of the year. You’re given a few days off work, get to visit family, catch up with old friends, and finally have some time for yourself! Everyone can celebrate over that. However, the holidays are also some of the most dangerous times of the year as well.
In 2015, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was found that roughly 391,000 injuries and 3,477 deaths occurred from dangerous distracted driving habits. During the holidays, states always see an increase in a couple of hundred deaths per year.
Driving habits should always be taken seriously.
You should never neglect the possibility of developing a bad driving habit or believe you can get away with a few questionable actions here and there. There is no room for bad habits on the road – especially, during the holidays. You have a responsibility to be not only a defensive driver but also a self-aware and conscious individual who makes wise choices before a drive and during one.
These are the dangerous distracted driving habits to avoid for a safe holiday.
Road rage and aggression
Getting angry at another driver for cutting you off or honking at you for whatever reason is completely normal. But in this scenario, the best thing to do would be to take a deep breath, stay calm, and separate yourself from the path of the other driver if possible.
Retaliating will only make the situation worse. Doing so could escalate the recklessness of the other driver and encourage them to return your anger. This can go back and forth with several actions, such as aggressively tailgating one another, brake-checking, swearing, and expressing obscene gestures.
You may reach the point where you’re so full of rage that both you and the other driver will be a hazard to other drivers and cause an unintentional injury or death.
Using your cell phone
In this day and age, a cell phone is practically glued to your hips: it constantly updates you on emails, social media, and messages between loved ones and colleagues. Therefore, it’s automatic to check a notification immediately. However, over 1.6 million people have been in a fatal accident due to cell phone use, which is more than half the number of those involved in road accidents.
If a notification is urgent, stop on the safe side of a road or hold off from checking until you reach your destination. While it can be daunting to think about missing an important call or worrying about why you’re getting multiple messages at once – you must remember that no call or message is worth risking your life or someone else’s over.
Eating a meal or drinking
Let’s say you accidentally spill your drink or drop your food while driving. What’s more important to you in that moment? Most likely, it’s to get that stain off your shirt or picking up crumbs from the seat.
The reaction speeds of a driver who simultaneously eats and drives lowers by 44%, and in conjunction drinking and driving brings the reaction speed down to 22%. When the urge to both drive and finish a meal occurs, make the choice to just stay where you are, finish your meal, and then drive.
Fixing makeup or grooming
Need to touch-up or check your hair? Wait for the bathroom at your destination. Statistics from insurances state that about 450,000 car accidents are caused due to an individual applying makeup. While yes, it’s important to feel and look your best at your destination, the best course of action is to get ready there instead.
Driving when tired and drowsy
Roughly 100,000 crashes occurred from drivers who either were extremely tired or fell asleep at the wheel. No matter if you had a long day at the office or are simply not feeling your best, call people you trust to take you and your car home or take public transportation.
Driving under the influence
Under no circumstance is it ever acceptable to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In 2015, a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that 10,265 people died from an alcohol-related accident.
Therefore, the next time you enjoy an evening out with friends or loved ones, make sure you watch your alcohol intake and have a designated driver take you home.
Averting your attention to a passing event
Your focus should remain on driving, not looking to see why there’s a commotion on the side of the street. Never let your curiosity get the best of you. Once you’re distracted, you will react too late to any unexpected circumstance, such as a child who unknowingly runs into the street, or a pedestrian crossing the sidewalk. No outside event is so important that it should completely divert your attention from driving or make you the cause of harm to someone else.
Not respecting the rules of the road
Everyone shares the same road; it doesn’t belong to one person. When you stop using turn signals or do not yield to the right of way to fellow drivers and pedestrians, you are completely disrespecting the rules of the road and everyone in it.
At first, for example, it may not seem like much to refrain from signaling – especially, if you’re the only one on the road changing lanes or cruising an open highway. But this small and deliberate habit can develop into an attitude of carelessness behind the wheel.
Consequently, it can cause you to forget to signal in a crowded area or freeway. Other drivers expect you to communicate your intentions so that everyone can reach their destinations without worry.
Engaging in dangerous distracted driving habits knowingly, such as speeding
Running a little late or feeling impatient during a long drive? You have to accept the situation at hand. Think about it this way: if you leave late, you’re going to be late – it happens!
Speeding recklessly down the highway or street isn’t going to help in any way. You spike up your stress levels and neglect the safety of everyone around you and in your path. Statistics have shown that since 2007, speeding is the culprit of fatal accidents – and that number continues to rise today.
On a final note…
One of the most important things to prioritize this holiday season is safety: the safety of not only yourself but others as well. It’s easy to develop dangerous distracted driving habits. But that’s no excuse to have them in the first place.
Remember to keep your emotions in check, accept that you sometimes cannot drive due to the state of your mind and body, and keep in mind that driving a vehicle is always a serious matter.
If you do this, you will help dramatically decrease the number of accidents and unfortunate events that happen each year, so that everyone can have a fun and safe holiday once again with their loved ones.