Over the River and Through the Woods

Now that the holiday spirit is all around us, it is a time to be with loved ones and friends as the nights get longer and the sun sets earlier every day. Whether you are driving home from college or going from place to place this season, it is important to review driver safety to keep yourself and the people you love safe for the holidays.

Gabrielle Salisbury, a communication student, shared her plans for the winter, “I can’t wait to go home for the holidays. I live about three hours from Monmouth. I am not looking forward to the drive, but it is worth it…on Christmas day we always drive to my aunt’s house which is an hour from where we live. I will be in the car a lot this break.” Travel times can often put a damper on holiday spirit, but as Salisbury stated, it is all worth it once you get there. The most important factor then becomes getting there safely.

Driving safety and awareness during all seasons is vital, but this is especially true when it comes to traveling in treacherous winter weather.

Before you even start your car, you will likely have to deal with the first of winter’s issues windows covered in snow and ice. Putting an ice scraper in your car now will save you lots of hassle later. Additionally, one life hack to get ice off your windshield utilizes warm water and a plastic bag. Simply fill a sealable plastic bag with warm/hot water and run it gently over your windshield; the ice will melt right away. It is also a good idea to have a small shovel and a little bit of snow salt in your trunk, in case you need to dig yourself out of a snowbank situation.

Similarly, you must always pay attention to where you park your car. If the snowplows are out on the streets, you could end up with a large snow drift trapping your car. Think ahead to where you will park your car in the winter.
When driving during the holiday season, staying off your phone is as important as ever. With increased holiday traffic, one distraction can be calamitous. Many cars have a hands-free Bluetooth setting you can employ with your phone. This allows you to use your GPS or answer phone calls without taking your eyes off the road.

Most phones also have a “driving” mode, which keeps distracting notifications off while you are in motion and can send messages responding to people trying to contact you. The responses frequently consist of something along the lines of, “I am currently driving I will get back to you later,” or you can create your own custom message for your contacts.

Be sure to plan an alternate transportation method if you are going somewhere you know you will be drinking alcohol. Utilize a ride service such as Uber or Lyft, plan to stay over at the host’s house, or designate a sober driver. With so many options to stay safe, there is no excuse for driving under the influence and becoming a danger to your community.

Winter conditions can be tricky to drive in under any circumstance. Respect the conditions you are driving in by obeying all road laws and slowing your speed if necessary. Adaptability is the name of the game when facing the winter weather.

The holiday season is a wonderful time if everyone is kept safe. Do your part to navigate the roads safely so you and your community can enjoy this special time.