It’s that time of year again for holiday parties and family dinners. It also means driving to and from different places. Robert Wunderlich, director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Center for Transportation Safety, sends these safety tips to you as you make travel plans this holiday season.
Wear seatbelts — every trip, every person. Nearly half the people who die in Texas motor vehicle crashes are unbelted. Remind your teenage drivers to wear their seatbelts and avoid any distractions. Model it for them by keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Be visibly smart as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Some ways to do that are to walk or ride where drivers might expect you and wear reflective gear to make yourself visible. Learn how you can improve safety if your car breaks down (or if it’s someone else’s car and you’re approaching them on the roadway).
Wear protective gear if you’re a motorcyclist. That means a helmet plus boots, gloves and protective clothing. If you’re planning to drink over the holidays, plan also for a designated driver on the ride home. Last year, motorcycle riders in fatal crashes were more likely to be impaired by alcohol than other types of motor vehicle drivers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drive friendly — the Texas way! Do your best to drive the speed limit. Leave early to meet up with family and friends. Check TxDOT’s project tracker ahead of time for which roads are under construction. As you drive, respect other motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists. Let the other person go first!
Make sure your child is in a certified car seat. Have the installation checked by a certified car seat technician. If you drink at a holiday party, ask a friend or family member to be your designated driver. NHTSA reports that, last year, 22 percent of traffic fatalities among children (14 years old and under) involved an alcohol-impaired crash.
Have a plan for getting home safely before drinking. There were more traffic fatalities involving drunk driving around Christmas and New Year’s Day last year than any other holiday period that year, according to NHTSA. Drinking impairs judgement, so arrange for how you’re getting home before you start drinking. Call a friend, go with a designated driver, or use a ridesharing service or taxi.
Law enforcement will increase officers on the roads over the holidays. Make sure you make safety plans before you get in your car or on your motorcycle, if you can. TxDOT marked almost two decades of daily deaths on Texas roads this year. Let’s make the holidays a little safer to End The Streak on our roads.
Happy Holidays from TTI!