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Be alert as you are driving; Police will be watching for unsafe drivers

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Submitted by Nathan Bickerstaff

Red Oak Police Department

The holidays….special music playing, lights are twinkling and there is anticipation in the air. 

It is a wonderful time of year! At least until you hit the roadway. 

People can be friendlier during the holiday season, but they can also be more stressed. 

You can see both types of driving behaviors on the road.

Drivers may yield, letting you advance ahead of them. 

Shoppers may direct you to a parking space they are about to vacate. 

In turn, drivers can also be aggressive due to the additional pressure that holidays bring. 

There are planes to catch, holiday trips to take, shopping lists to complete and special performances and parties to attend. 

There is more temptation to speed, push through yellow lights and run a red light. 

Drivers may cut you off, take your intended parking spot and weave in and out of traffic.

Some acronyms that may be helpful this season:

Realize that the other person is only in your life for a brief second and it is not worth the trouble to get upset.

Impatience Can Kill You. When you are impatient you react in ways you might not otherwise. Is it worth the risk?

Many people are distracted while they are driving. 

They don’t even realize how their actions affect other drivers. It is not a safe attitude on the road, but it has nothing to do with you. 

Distracted driving is even more pronounced during the holidays. 

Many people are travelling on holiday visits and are in unfamiliar areas. 

Avoid using cell phones, adjusting the radio, or changing CDs, reading maps, eating and drinking while driving.

Stay alert, keeping your eyes focused on searching and scanning the driving environment. 

Keep conversations with passengers light in nature, and ask for their help in being alert. 

Resist the temptation to think about anything other than driving. 

Holiday decorations are always wonderful to see but set a time to look at decorations when you can travel slowly, away from traffic, and can be alert. 

Drive defensively; wear your safety belt and always expect the unexpected.

With additional holiday activities and stresses, changes in sleep schedules, and shorter days, drivers are vulnerable to becoming drowsy. 

Fight fatigue by getting enough rest, leaving early, taking frequent breaks, sharing the driving, asking passengers to stay alert and limiting driving to times to when you are normally awake. 

Illness is more prevalent during the winter months, so check all medication including over the counter ones to be sure the side effects don’t include drowsiness before ingesting them. 

With all the holiday festivities, impaired driving occurs more frequently and police increase the number of patrols. If traveling by car, always have a designated driver. 

Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your driving ability. 

Be extra cautious on the road at night and report any driver you believe to be driving impaired. 

The weather is unpredictable in the winter with rain, snow, sleet, and ice. 

Check the forecast and road reports in advance and make contingency plans for bad weather, even when traveling short distances. 

Keep your vehicle well maintained, tires properly pressurized and road worthy, fluid levels filled, and windows, wipers, headlights and taillights cleaned. 

Make sure your emergency kit includes flashlights, flares, blankets, jumper-cables, shovel, duct tape, gloves, water, a small tool kit and a box of matches. 

Communicate your travel plans to another person and advise them of any changes. Expect delays and give yourself plenty of travel time. 

Increase your following distance and extra two seconds for poor weather conditions. 

If you break down or are caught in bad weather, look for shelter and wait out the storm instead of trying to drive through or out of it. 

Avoid sitting in a running car to keep warm due to carbon dioxide poisoning. 

With the increase in traffic that the holiday brings, there is also an increase in commercial vehicles on the roadway. 

When driving near trucks, be aware of the “no zones” behind, in front and to the sides of the vehicles where they can not see you. 

Do not linger in these areas. Increase your following distance behind a truck as they need more time and space to come to a complete stop.

When you are out shopping, be sure to park in an appropriate sized spot. 

Position the vehicle in the center of the parking space to keep your vehicle free from scratches and dings. 

Pull through the space if possible to avoid backing up. 

Have a passenger get out of the vehicle to help guide you through blind spots and obstacles. 

Be extra vigilant when scanning parking lots for small children who may have strayed from their accompanying adults. 

Take shopping carts back to the stores or corrals to avoid obstruction for other drivers.

Crime increases during the holidays, so be sure to take the appropriate measures to be safe. Park close to the business you will be visiting, in well lit areas. 

Place any valuables and packages in the trunk or out of sight. 

When you leave your vehicle, double check that it is locked and have your keys out and ready upon returning.

Be alert, if something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and avoid the situation. 

Holidays often mean spending more time behind the wheel. 

Be sure to follow the speed limit and the rules of the road. 

Avoid sudden vehicle movements and drive defensively. Relax and enjoy the holiday season. 

Red Oak Police Department wants you to have a great holiday and stay safe!

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