The National Safety Council (NSC) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to, “eliminat[e] preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.” To this end, the NSC publishes a variety of practical tools and resources on its website, often targeting specific safety risks during specific events or times of year.
In a recent post titled, “Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season,” the NSC provides some tips for avoiding injuries and health risks for during the holidays. Along with decorating safely, giving age-appropriate gifts, and always keeping an eye on burning candles and fireplaces, the post discusses five ways to reduce your chances of being injured in an auto accident as well:
1. “Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely.”
While there is nothing wrong with celebrating responsibly, drinking and driving presents extreme risks for everyone on the road. If you will be hosting or attending a holiday party where alcohol is served, take responsibility for yourself by choosing not to drink or finding a designated driver, and consider offering to help others who need to find a safe ride home.
2. “Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled.”
Seatbelts exist for a reason. Studies have shown that wearing a seatbelt greatly reduces drivers’ and passengers’ chances of being severely injured in an accident, and seatbelt use is mandatory for drivers, front-seat passengers, and back-seat passengers under age 18 under Florida law. Whether you are going shopping or traveling out of state to visit family, make sure you and your loved ones are buckled before you shift into drive.
3. “Put that cell phone away.”
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in Florida, with talking, texting and using social media behind the wheel all being among the most-common driving distractions. If you know that you are prone to picking up your phone while you are driving, consider putting it out of reach in your vehicle this holiday season.
4. “Properly maintain [your] vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.”
Inadequate vehicle maintenance is a factor in more auto accidents than most people realize. But, from failing to replace worn tires or brake pads to going for weeks or months without replacing a burnt-out brake light, all types of maintenance issues have the potential to cause and contribute to serious collisions. While we might not have to prepare for winter weather in South Florida, keeping an emergency kit with cones, flares, first aid supplies, a fire extinguisher and jumper cables in the trunk of your car is still a good idea.
5. “Be prepared for heavy traffic.”
Florida’s roads get busier during the holiday season. From congestion around malls and shopping centers to bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway, all drivers should be prepared for it to take longer to get places than usual. To reduce your chances of being injured in an accident, make sure you get plenty of rest, ignore hostile drivers, and when in doubt always err on the side of caution.