Holiday Safe Driving Tips
The holidays are here, which means significantly more traffic as a result of all the shoppers and revelers on the road. It also means driving under winter conditions that may often be severe, causing traction and visibility problems. Unfortunately, it ’s also when there are more individuals driving under the influence of alcohol. Car accidents, DUIs, as well as traffic stops and other types of citations typically increase around the holidays. Here are ten tips for staying safe during the holidays while driving on the roads and highways of Pennsylvania.
- Make sure your vehicle is running properly. Basically, have a professional check the lights, oil, battery belts, hoses, tire condition, tire pressure, brake and antifreeze fluid before traveling during the holidays.
- Plan ahead, especially when taking longer trips. Plan your route and check traffic and weather reports prior to departure. If you do not have a GPS system, bring a good old-fashioned paper map. Always have an emergency road kit for longer excursions.
- Be prepared for winter weather. If taking a trip during wet, icy, or snowy weather, leave earlier to allow extra time for delays and adverse road conditions. Delay your trip and wait until conditions improve if you are uneasy driving in bad weather,
- Observe the speed limit, even observing lower speed limits than posted when driving in bad weather. This is a simple tip. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident. Exceeding the speed limit, especially in bad weather, is unsafe and increases the likelihood that you will be pulled over by the police. No one wants an accident or a ticket during the holidays.
- Never drink and drive. Always have a designated driver. Blood alcohol levels below Pennsylvania’s legal limit of .08 may still impair driving and increase the chance of injury or death in an accident. Not everyone drinks alcohol. Thus, it shouldn’t be difficult to appoint a designated driver for an office party or other holiday festivities. Even a first offense DUI may result in jail time. Regardless, a first offense becomes part of your criminal record. To avoid any risk of DUI accidents and criminal charges, get a designated driver or avoid drinking and driving entirely.
- Do not drive while distracted. Never text or email while driving. Vast amounts of research demonstrate driving while distracted, i.e., texting or using a smartphone while driving, substantially increases your chance of injury or death. Recently, the number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted drivers has increased substantially. If you must make a phone call or send a text, safely and cautiously pull off the road, and then finish the call or text before continuing your journey. Pull over to eat or drink. Have items needed during the trip within reach.
- If the police pull you over, remain calm. A traffic stop is a stressful, unwanted experience. If a police car signals you to pull over, stay calm and pull safely off the road. If the stop occurs during the evening, turn on the car’s interior light. Keep your hands still and in a visible place, such as on the steering wheel. Do not be impolite but cooperate with the police officer. Provide your name, driver’s license, registration and insurance information upon request of the officer. Never exit the vehicle unless the officer requests you to do so! You are not obligated to consent to a search of the vehicle. If the officer still searches the vehicle, stay calm, do not physically resist, while informing the officer that you object to the search.
- Make sure your smaller children are safe in the motor vehicle. It is extremely important to protect your children by ensuring they are in the appropriate car seat for their age and size. Pennsylvania has strict laws regarding child safety seats.
- Drive defensively. Do not rush to arrive at your destination. Do not make quick stops at stop signs and do not run red lights. Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing, and expect the unexpected.
- Follow at an assured safe distance. This is the law in Pennsylvania. Rear-end collisions are much too common. In ideal road conditions, you should leave a minimum 3-second gap between you and the car that you’re following. If road conditions are wet or icy, allow even more time, such as 7 or 8 seconds.
If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury as a result of a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or truck accident, contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win. Our family and firm have served the residents of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas for 113 years. Happy Thanksgiving!