I’m generally a fairly mild mannered driver. I drive defensively, keep an eye on what’s going on around me, and look ahead so as to avoid trouble. I know what places are going to be congested so I get to the part of the road I need to be on before I reach those places. That’s part of the reason why the only accident I’ve ever been in occurred at slow speed, at a stop actually, when I was rear ended by a sixteen year old driving her Daddy’s big pickup. Her foot slipped off the brake. I haven’t, to my knowledge, caused any wrecks either.
I’ve needed all those skills this holiday season. I don’t know what it is but this is the most intense year for holiday driving that I’ve ever seen. One night, I nearly met disaster no fewer than five times! A neighbor nearly plowed into me as I was leaving my driveway (I had looked both ways before starting) because he felt the need to zoom through our unusually crowded neighborhood without looking, even though there were lots of holiday visitors walking back and forth looking at lights, then he had the temerity to blare his horn as if it had been my fault. On the same trip, a couple of distracted drivers decided to stop suddenly without giving warning. Another did a U-turn in the middle of the road through fairly heavy traffic. A pedestrian ran across that same busy street, mid block (posted limit is 40 and there are five lanes plus a bike lane), apparently aiming for our car. Luckily, the pedestrian missed and made it safely to the other side. I’m pretty sure two new eyeballs had grown on the back of my head by that point. I stayed relatively calm but didn’t come down off Alert Status till I’d pulled the car into my spot, locked it, and gotten safely inside.
Every time I have poked my head out of my domicile between maybe four PM and 10 PM, I have witnessed something that can only be called holiday insanity. People are acting as if their brains have been scooped out by a melon baller and replaced by something resembling warm tapioca. I’ve also seen a heartrending number of accidents, several each day, far more than I’ve ever seen before. I think people are maddened by having to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, feeling pressed for time, frustrated and frazzled, and probably not used to the area because many of them seem to be new Snowbirds.
I’m happy to stay out of those accidents. I’m staying most firmly INDOORS today and tomorrow. I’ll be eating spice cookies and chicken, thank you very much, watching some good anime and spending time with the love of my life.
So here are a few tips to protect you, dear reader, at these frenetic times of year.
Tips For Holiday Driving
Stay calm. If someone cuts you off or does something stupid, don’t let it get to you. Honk only when needed for safety.
Look ahead and all around you. Keep your head on a swivel. Somebody should be looking, after all, and they certainly won’t.
Keep in mind the distractions other drivers have. Phones, lane change alerts, automated braking, in-dash navigation systems or other screens, screaming kids, meals grabbed on the go. Be extra vigilant.
Don’t go unless you have to. If you can, plan your trips for calmer times.
Know your alternates. It’s nice to have another way to get somewhere if you see a wreck or an obstruction.
Don’t distract yourself. Conversation with others in the car or MAYBE music on the radio. No phones, for pity’s sake no texting. Nothing is more important than keeping your car, and yourself, in one piece.
Think ahead. Along with looking ahead, think ahead. Watch other drivers, observe how they are reacting and acting. Get away from ones who can’t hold their lane or are driving erratically. I can’t tell you how many times this has saved my skin.
Allow a bit extra following distance. This includes at stoplights. Aim to be able to see the tires of the car ahead of you, at the least. That way you won’t get stuck behind someone, and you’ll also have more time to react.
If you are too stressed out to travel or shop, find another way. Shop online, plan the trip another time, ask for help, or find some way to reduce the stress burden. A few extra deep breaths work wonders.
Stay safe out there, and may your holidays be merry and bright!