The holiday season is approaching, and CEI is sharing 10 tips on how to drive safely in crowded traffic, both vehicle and pedestrian.  With 2021 experiencing the greatest increase in traffic fatalities in reported history[1], getting you and your family safely to your destination is upmost in our minds.

 

#10 – Schedule maintenance repairs early.

Vehicle repair shops are not immune to the pinch of supply chain shortages.  Needed parts are not always available.[2]  Schedule maintenance with your chosen shop well in advance of travel to allow for lengthy part lead-times. The last place you want to be on your trip is broken down on the side of the road.

 

#9 – Be extra cautious in store parking lots.

Both motorists and pedestrians can be distracted in parking lots, and that combination can be deadly.  By parking far from store entrances, you will be less likely to encounter pedestrians when parking and leaving.  As a pedestrian, look around you and not at your phone.  You can protect yourself from distracted motorists if you are not distracted yourself.

 

#8 – Travel in off-peak times.

The busiest travel day prior to major travel holidays has traditionally been the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and December 23rd.  By spending extra vacation days to travel on non-peak days, or leveraging remote work situations to do so, you can travel on less congested roads and reduce the risk of a crash.  Additionally, consider travelling in the morning rather than the end of the day.  According to the National Safety Council,[3] most crashes occur between 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, with the hours of 8:00 am to noon being some of the safest hours.

 

 

#7 – Protect against dry eyes.

According to a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology[4], drivers with dry eyes are more likely to miss objects in the road, such as crosswalks and road obstructions, and are more likely to have a slower response time.  On long trips, these actions can help you drive safely:

  • Wear glasses instead of contact lenses
  • Use “artificial tear” drops before you leave and during your rest stops.
  • Use sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection during the day, and glasses with anti-reflection coatings at night.
  • Don’t have air vents blowing directly on your face.
  • Stay hydrated

 

 

#6 – Take regular breaks on long trips.

rest stop

Long road trips can produce mental fatigue when you remain focused on your driving.  This is especially true when you travel in heavy traffic.  It is suggested to take:

  • A 15-minute break at least every two hours, and
  • A 30-minute break at the four-hour mark.

Use that time to get out of the vehicle in a safe area and take a short walk, do some deep breathing, and just close your eyes to relax.  If you have another licensed adult with you, consider switching drivers every rest stop.

 

 

#5 Refrain from deep conversations while driving.

In your busy life, a long road trip may provide uninterrupted time for you and your partner to talk about important matters.  Unfortunately, conversations with passengers are nearly twice as distracting as simply listening to the radio.[5] It is better for your passenger to assist as a navigator, or simply rest if they are going to be sharing the driving with you.  Set aside time when you are not behind the wheel to have that conversation.

 

 

#4 – Don’t perform childcare while driving.

When you must attend to your children as referee or caretaker while driving, this can distract you both mentally and physically.  Here are some strategies to help parents drive safely:

  • Have an adult sit next to a toddler or baby, so they can manage drinks and snacks safely.
  • For older children, consider activity bags with snacks and games.
  • If you use electronic device “screen time” as a form of structured reward, consider a family road trip as an “exempt” period where kids get unlimited screen time. Bring a long enough power cord to recharge devices in use.

When you do have to tend to your child, pull over to a safe place before intervening.

 

 

#3 – Buckle Up.

Unrestrained drivers are at a much higher risk of serious injury or death if a crash occurs.  Unrestrained passengers, including pets, can become a distraction to the driver, as well as fatalities in the event of a crash.  Pull over to a safe location before anyone unbuckles for any reason.  Retrieving that dropped item quickly isn’t as important as doing it safely.

 

 

#2 – Watch Your Speed.

Speeding is a costly solution for making time up when traffic delays you.  It is one of the leading factors in the increase in road fatalities this year.  You can drive safely by leaving earlier, or on an earlier day, so you do not feel pressured to arrive on time to the holiday celebration.

 

 

#1 – Prevent Phone Distractions.

Phone distractions are involved in 20 – 25% of all motor vehicle accidents.  Here are ways to guard against this distraction:

  • It is best to put your phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode or turn it off completely.
  • If you listen to streaming music, be sure to connect your playlist before you put your car into gear, and at a low volume to reduce audio distractions.
  • If you use apps on your phone for navigation, set the destination before driving and secure the phone in your vehicle so it does not move about.
  • Turn on the audio alerts so you can anticipate turns and traffic ahead, rather than looking at your phone.

 

 

If you have been using CEI’s DriverCare CoPilot fleet safety app, you are already receiving feedback on the unsafe driving behaviors you need to improve.  Keep those in mind, and these tips, as you head out on your holiday travels this year.

Wishing you and your families a very happy and safe holiday season.

 

[1] https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/usdot-releases-new-data-showing-road-fatalities-spiked-first-half-2021

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-16/car-parts-shortages-are-hitting-u-s-garages-creating-weeks-long-delays

[3] https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/crashes-by-time-of-day-and-day-of-week/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23706501/

[5] https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/motr/car-talk-contentious-conversations-drive-distraction.html

 

 

 

 

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