Unfortunately car accidents are not uncommon, especially during the holiday season. Even during a global pandemic where fewer Americans commute to work and are on the road, the rate of car accidents has remained relatively unchanged.

This holiday season, you can help improve safety on the road for yourself and others by following five helpful tips when you get behind the wheel. Whether your holiday season has you driving down the street or across the state, use these tips to ensure health and safety for everyone on the road.

1. Double Your Distance from Other Cars

In regular driving conditions, it is recommended to give roughly three seconds of space between yourself and the car in front of you. If you are driving on wet or icy pavement or in inclement weather, give yourself eight to ten seconds of space from the car in front of you for added response times. The more time you have to react to the car in front of you, the more time you’ll be able to safely respond and prevent slamming on your brakes, which could prevent a rear-end accident. 

2. Drive When You Are Sober and Alert

“Drowsy driving is significantly underreported, but is a factor in numerous car collisions and truck accidents each year,” note the car accident experts at Manchin Injury Law Group, “Driving drowsy is classified as the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness/fatigue, which can be attributed to medications, lack of sleep, sleep disorders, shift work, or alcohol.”

The holiday season can be stressful for some, causing lack of sleep and additional usage of medications and alcohol. If you do not feel alert or are intoxicated, never get behind the wheel of a car. Opt for a ridesharing service, taxi service, or relying on a sober friend to get you safety to and from your destination.

3. Don’t Do More Than You Have To

Avoid unnecessary lane changes and turns while driving. Slick roads can mean increased risks of sliding and spinning out. Approach all turns and lane changes with caution, obeying speed limits, and watching out for pedestrians and bicyclists in addition to cars. 

4. Obey The Rules of the Road

It may seem obvious, but not everyone follows the rules of the road! One of the safest choices drivers and passengers alike can make is the choice to buckle up. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the national seat belt use rate was at 90.7% in 2019.

Follow all posted speed limits and signage. Be vigilant for pedestrians and jaywalkers in heavily populated areas and consider slowing down an additional 5 MPH in school zones. Use headlights and fog lights when necessary and employ defensive driving tactics.

5. Plan Ahead

Speeding is often the cause of car accidents, which many attribute to the need to get somewhere on time. Avoid this problem altogether, and the unforeseen holiday traffic, by planning ahead. Allot an extra 15 minutes to 45 minutes to get to your location on time and safely. Giving yourself extra time for travel will not only mean better and safer driver habits, it can help take off added stress and anxiety on the road. 

It is also recommended to be prepared for an accident in case one happens. Keep an extra face mask, hand sanitizing liquid, pen, and paper in an easily accessible spot in your car in case of a car crash. Locate your insurance paperwork and keep it handy as well. Car accidents can be overwhelming, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. By being prepared, you can make it just a little bit easier for everyone involved.

Wherever you plan on celebrating the holidays this season, use these 5 tips when you are on the road to help promote safety for everyone. Making smart choices about driving could mean the difference between life and death for not only yourself, but other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists on the road. This holiday season, put safety first!