snowy road

With the holiday season upon us, it's important to alter our driving habits and pay closer attention to the roads. In this article, we offer useful advice to make your driving a little less stressful this holiday season. If you're a new driver -- or a driver still taking driver's ed -- you'll find these tips especially helpful as you practice your driving habits in real-world environments.

Beware of Increased Pedestrian Traffic

With Christmas break right around the corner, you're going to see a lot more young children playing in neighborhoods. From snowball fights to a game of catch children love to congregate outside while they're not in school.

You must take extra precautions while traveling through neighborhoods. This time of year, it's even more important to watch out for young people playing outside. Poor weather conditions combined with streets getting dark earlier make it hard to see pedestrians clearly. Be aware of children who may jump out into the street to fetch a ball. Be on the lookout for kids who might not be able to tell where their snow-covered front yard ends and where the snow-covered road begins.

Be Aware of Changing Road Conditions

Christmas is synonymous with snow. Even parts of California have reported snowfall in December at one time or another. As the snow falls, you need to alter your driving habits. Cold weather can create slippery road conditions. If you must drive, reduce your speed and don't follow too close to the vehicle ahead of you. You never know when you'll need to slam on the brakes.

If you live or are visiting an area where you expect snow, make sure you have tire chains or cables with you. It's a good idea to practice putting them on your vehicle to ensure you are familiar with how to install them before you're in a situation that requires them.

Watch Out For Drunk Drivers

It's sad but true. As more and more people attend holiday parties, more and more people will make the mistake of driving drunk. Make sure that you can identify when someone is too drunk to drive. If you notice a drunk driver on the road, call the police. You could help prevent a serious accident.

Be Aware of What's Going On Inside Your Car

It's important for all drivers to be aware of what's going on inside their vehicles. During the holiday season, it's common for friends to travel together. Whether a long-distance road trip is in the cards or you're just traveling to the local ice skating rink down the street, you might find yourself driving friends and family more often.

Keep passenger safety in mind. Ensure that all passengers in your vehicle have their seatbelts fastened. If someone chooses not to wear a seatbelt, refuse to move the car out of the park. Chances are, if they're threatened with losing their ride, they'll buckle up pretty quickly. It's your responsibility as the driver to ensure your passengers are safe.

Don't Get Distracted With Holiday Lights

There are a lot more distractions around town this time of year as well. As you take note of the beautifully lit trees and brightly decorated homes this holiday season, it's important to take note of the traffic lights and signals that those holiday lights may drown out.

Pay attention to the road ahead. Be aware of all conditions around you. Check your mirrors every 3-5 seconds and don't get distracted by those holiday lights. They may look good, but the traffic light ahead is where your eyes should be focused.

Watch for Emergencies

Remember, with more people on the road this holiday season -- and with poor road conditions in some parts of the country -- you're likely to see several emergency vehicles out on the road. Help promote safe driving. Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars will make their presence known with flashing lights. Remember the importance of letting emergency vehicles pass. Be sure to pull over to the right as soon as you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle.

Have Fun Out There!

The holidays are a time for celebration. So fasten your seatbelt, drive safe, and have a great time out there -- no matter where you're headed and whom you're headed there with.