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According to the Dayton Daily News, about 4 million Ohioans and 103 million Americans will be traveling over 50 miles this Christmas weekend and many of them will be driving. Traffic is set to increase around 37% this Christmas, which is the highest rise since 2001 when AAA started tracking holiday travel. This staggering statistic shouldn’t be too surprising as young people are moving farther away from home. Since we would all like to be spending time with our families over this Christmas holiday, here are a few things we can all do to keep each other safe out there.

One of the major distractions on the rise has been texting while driving. Checking or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. How far can you travel at 65 mph in five seconds? Almost one tenth of a mile! A lot can happen in that short time frame. We are sure you’ve heard it many times, but the text, call or post can wait until you arrive safely at your destination. Nothing is more important behind the wheel than your safety and the safety of your fellow motorists sharing the road with you. Wait to reply to that text or call until you are off the road and safely stopped. Some other examples of distracted driving to avoid would be eating or drinking while driving and trying to play around with the music selections when your attention should remain on the roadway.

Drinking and driving is another predicament people find themselves in this time of year. I personally come from a long line of Irish Catholics who refuse to celebrate without a little alcohol present. We may all have a good time at the party, but we always designate a sober driver to get us safely home at the end of the night. If you are going to be celebrating your holidays with a little “eggnog” make sure to have a plan to get home at the end of the night.

The weather can be a deterrent for travel this time of year as well. It wasn’t 10 days ago that we had some surrounding counties under weather advisories and not allowed on the road ways. Make sure to check the weather conditions before traveling and be sure to pack extra blankets, water and flashlights in case you find yourself in need of a tow because of icy roadways. Also, if the weather looks like it might be become a little inclimate, make sure to give yourself enough extra time to get to your destination safely! If you are going to try to get up early to leave or stay a little late to try to avoid traffic, make sure you are well rested! Drowsiness is another leading cause of accidents across the United States when we find ourselves in a hurry from time to time.

With all of the extra people on the road during this holiday season (which is looking to be unseasonably warm) remember to try your best to stay calm. Yes, someone may cut over in traffic causing an extra delay, or maybe going a little slower than you may like, but instead of letting your anger get the best of you, remember how much fun you are going to have with your loved ones instead! So remember, keep your cell phone away until you arrive, designate your own sober transport and keep those hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. From all of us here at Preferred Insurance Center, we wish you a safe and Merry Christmas season and a wonderful 2017!