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Like hundreds of other EndDD.org volunteers, I often beat the drum about the dangers of driving distracted. It’s a nationwide epidemic that kills and injures thousands of people every year.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the holidays are extra dangerous on the roads. More people are driving, but other factors contribute to the safety issues. We’re all also crazy-busy. We’ve got a mile-long mental to-do list before Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the rest of the holidays arrive. The cold weather creates more hazardous road conditions. To compound the problem, we all have smartphones that incessantly alert us to retail sales, calendar invites, Facebook notifications, and more.

With the added distractions comes the need to be particularly vigilant as both drivers and passengers. Below are a few important tips to remember on every trip during the holiday season (and always).

distracted driving holiday graphicBuckle up: According to the CDC, seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in the event of a vehicle crash. Despite the substantial protection of seat belts, however, millions of people do not buckle up during every trip.

Drive sober or don’t drive at all: Drunk drivers put themselves and everyone else on the road in danger. It’s not enough to try to calculate your own blood-alcohol content. According to the NHTSA, the only way to be sure you’re not driving under the influence is to have a BAC of zero. Designate a sober driver ahead of time or make alternate transportation arrangements.

Drive without distraction: Your car will probably be packed with people (and maybe pets), home-cooked side dishes, and gifts. Your cell phone might be going off as friends and family members need directions or have last-minute questions. It’s tempting to try to multitask, but it only takes a second of inattention to cause a crash. Avoid all manual, cognitive and visual distractions until you’ve arrived at your destination.

As we all celebrate this joyous season with family and friends, remember to do your part to keep yourself, your family, and other motorists safe on the roads.

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