When we think of the holiday season we think of the warm fuzzies and family celebrations. While that’s true, the holidays can also be a time of high stress and reminders of loss. For many reasons, it can become a perfect storm for traffic safety issues this time of year.
“Unfortunately, impaired driving becomes a bigger issue this time of year so I always remind folks if you are gonna celebrate and alcohol is a part of that make sure that you have a ride-share planned or that you’ve got a designated driver,” said AAA Bluegrass public affairs manager Lori Weaver Hawkins.
Another issue is distracted driving, and that’s such a danger, both for the motorists themselves — as well as other drivers and pedestrians, from being on your cell phone (which you should never be doing).
“Because they’re thinking about all the things that they have to do — or all the places that they still need to go,” Hawkins said. “Those mental distractions can greatly impact their driving abilities.”
According to the public affairs manager, even if you were good about not looking at that cell phone for what message came through, you feel like you do keep your eyes on the road, sometimes while your eyes are on the road, your mind can be wandering elsewhere.”
Everything from tailgating to running stoplights, changing lanes abruptly and road rage. Hawkins says never get behind the wheel when you do feel those heightened emotions because it can come out not just as distracted driving but also as aggressive driving.
“At all times, especially though when you’re around areas where there are a lot of retail you’re gonna see more pedestrians,” she said. “Too often I see vehicles driving through parking lots at shopping centers at road speed. There is so much pedestrian traffic and that’s just such a dangerous habit.”
If you do come across someone driving aggressively, even gesturing at you — Hawkins says move over a lane when it’s safe to do so or pull over because it can escalate quickly and then we end up with a confrontation — people using their vehicle as a weapon.
“Or people showing weapons that they have on them to others in the vehicle and in some cases, unfortunately, people do lose their lives or are seriously injured,” said the public affairs manager.
“For the holidays you’ll be safer and that’s the important thing,” Hawkins said. “It’s not your job to police other driver’s behavior. We have that tendency, oh, look what they did, they cut me off. Just let it go.”