Extra care, caution needed in safe holiday driving

With wintery conditions and increased holiday shopping activity arriving almost simultaneously, we wanted to remind everyone to take extra care when driving to try to help ensure a safe holiday season.

It’s easy to become distracted when rushing from here to there, trying to get this and that, while on the way to doing a dozen other things that just have to get done today or else there will never be time for all those other things waiting to be done tomorrow.

Add to this, the driving distractions of Christmas music playing on the car stereo, trying to talk to relatives in the vehicle or trying to keep the enthusiasm of kids -hepped up on Christmas- curbed a little, at least until you get to the store.

Did you remember to turn the oven on? Off? What size sweater did Grandma want again? Does that sale at the store end today, or was it tomorrow? Maybe I should check my purse to see if I brought that coupon with me? Who is calling me on my cellphone now?

All of this may be going on in one vehicle. With the holidays upon us, multiply that by a few hundred or a couple thousand and throw in some holiday sales or chances to see Santa and the reindeer, and traffic can get pretty congested and tough to drive in.

Added to the rush of the holiday season, Old Man Winter, Mother Nature, the weather man or whomever decided to dump seemingly lasting snow over the region in time for Christmas, which is what many people enjoy during the holiday season.

However, the somewhat abrupt change from driving on blacktop to driving on snow and ice can make it tougher to stop and turn and will usually increase the likelihood of traffic accidents.

Take extra time planning where you need to go before you leave. Allow a little more time to get there and get back. Try to limit your distractions while driving. Driving slower is usually a good idea, especially in the early days of winter, to give yourself a chance to get used to winter driving again and to have more time to react to those who haven’t.

The holidays can be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it’s likely to be a better season for everyone if we can all remember to keep a little bit of safety in mind when getting behind the wheel.