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Be prepared for holiday drivers

Those of us who aren't hosting family and friends over the holidays will need to travel to our celebrations. With those journeys come the increased risk of getting into an accident.

Luckily, the possibility of getting into an accident over the winter holidays is not as likely as other holidays. Drivers are combating increased traffic on the road and potential drunk drivers with the added risk of weather-related accidents, and yet it is not as dangerous of a season as the summer.

According to the National Safety Council, New Year's Day and Christmas Day were fifth and sixth among six major holidays for traffic fatalities in 2016. The most dangerous holiday was Labor Day, followed by Thanksgiving Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, respectively.

That being said, there is still reason to be cautious over the next few weeks. Long-distance trips (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increase by 23 percent over the Christmas and New Year's holiday period, 91 percent of which are by personal vehicle. When Christmas has fallen toward the beginning of the week, as it does this year, the Saturday and Sunday preceding were the busiest travel days during the 17-day holiday period. The more cars there are on the road, the higher probability there could be a collision.

As you prepare for holiday travel, consider taking some preventative measures to aid in safe travel:

  • Perform any needed maintenance on the vehicle before traveling, such as oil changes, tire rotations, etc.
  • Pack any necessary items you may need if you are stuck on the side of the road, such as ice scrapers, warm clothing and kitty litter - which can help give your car traction if you're stuck in the snow
  • Fill up the gas tank before you leave
  • If you plan on drinking, assign a designated driver before travel
  • Practice patience - there are going to be a lot of people on the road with you

You can't control other drivers unfortunately, but you can take precautions to increase your likelihood of reaching your destination and getting back home safely.

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