It's the holiday season, and that means that many people are going to be traveling, especially this year. AAA is predicting 53.4 million people will be traveling this holiday. Naturally, it's a significant increase compared to last year's numbers, and we will be pretty close to pre-pandemic numbers.
With that, people should take some definitive steps to ensure the highest level of safety to and from their destination.
Above all else, ensure that you and all other vehicle occupants are wearing a seat belt properly.
You've likely had it said to you, and you've probably even said it to others, "It's not you I'm worried about, it's the other drivers out there." Well, your seat belt is your number one best defense against those "other drivers." They might be on their phone trying to follow the map to Aunt Betty's house or shuffling through their turkey-themed playlist. Or, like the driver I saw this last week with their phone in a stand high up on their dashboard, flipping through TikTok videos as they are driving in traffic. Don't be this person.
Don't you think seatbelts are a problem? As of November 16, 2021, there have been 210 fatalities on Montana roadways. 106 of them, over 50%, had a contributing factor related to no seatbelts.
Choose to drive only when you are 100% sober.
Any alcohol in your system can be dangerous when you are behind the wheel. In addition to alcohol, there are often other chemicals that can cause impaired driving. Perhaps you are taking a new prescription medication, and you don't realize that it could cause impairment when combined with alcohol. Maybe it's an Over The Counter (OTC) medication paired with a drink.
Sometimes medications or other substances like marijuana can multiply the impairment level. What I mean by that is perhaps you have only one drink, and you are well below the legal .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level with no signs of impairment. Also, that medication you started taking a couple of weeks ago hasn't caused you any signs of impairment. However, once combined, the alcohol and the medication cause a level of impairment that is not safe when driving. It's also important to understand that impairment might occur when combining two different medications or if you've recently changed a dosage amount.
If you are impaired, please arrange for a sober ride and let someone else do the driving. Rideshare services that include Lyft, Uber, or even a Taxi are great options. Here's a report from Lyft that shows when a rideshare company like Lyft enters a market, DUI's decrease.
Pay attention and focus while driving. The perfect condition for a crash is when two or more highly distracted drivers meet unexpectedly. Pun intended. You might be paying attention, but when the perfect storm hits from the lanes next to you. I defer to safety tip Number 1 listed above.
I get it. We are glued to our phones. We are totally under the influence of technology, and even though we are driving, it's hard to put down. Still, it's clear that when we are driving under the influence of technology, our driving is impaired and dangerous.
A new report from CoPilot looked at the states with the most distracted teen drivers on the road. They found that 54.1% of Montana teens used their phones while driving. Of the 46 states with data, Montana has the 3rd most distracted teen drivers. Are you shocked by this? I'll go to my standard line of "More stuff is caught than taught." What does that mean? If we parents aren't setting a solid example of the behavior we expect, it doesn't matter what we say...it's what we do that matters.
Watch this Video: "How to avoid "Yeah, but you..."
As always, Thank you and Drive Safe Missoula