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Staying Safe on the Roads During Holiday Travel

Shepherd Center’s director of injury prevention and education provides holiday driving tips.

People across the United States are gearing up to drive to their holiday destinations. In fact, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 104.8 million Americans are predicted to drive during the holidays this year, 3.9 million more compared with last year. Unfortunately, with so many on the roads, the likelihood of motor vehicle crashes increases. In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for people aged 1-54, and about 40,000 people were killed in crashes in 2017 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Emma Harrington, director of injury prevention and education at Shepherd Center, recommends these steps to stay safe on the roads during holiday travel:

  1. If you have children or grandkids visiting, ensure their car seats are correctly installed and up-to-date. Check the seat’s expiration date and for any manufacturer recalls. Children under 4’9” should be in a car seat or booster seat.
  2. Have children under age 13 ride in the backseat at all times.
  3. If you are traveling to colder climates:
    • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread on them.
    • Keep kitty litter in your car in case you get stuck in snow and ice – it provides excellent traction.
    • Ensure you have an ice scraper and shovel in the trunk as well as extra blankets and flashlights in case you get stuck.
  4. Try to travel during daylight hours and avoid late-night travel. Many crashes happen due to poor visibility and impaired drivers on the road after hours.
  5. Always wear your seatbelt and insist your passengers do as well. Unbuckled passengers can become torpedoes upon impact.
  6. Drive without distractions – even Bluetooth technology is enough to take your mind off of driving.
  7. Avoid driving altogether by using public transportation or ride-sharing apps when possible, especially if you have indulged in a holiday drink or two.

Written by Emma Harrington and Damjana Alverson

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.