State Health Officer
Keep Safety in Mind While on the Road During the Holidays
The holiday travel season is upon us, and with that comes added traffic and congestion on the roadways. Driving during the holidays can be stressful, so be sure to buckle up before you hit the road. Motor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of death in the United States, and the simple act of buckling your seat belt could prevent needless injury or the loss of life.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that seat belt use prevented an estimated 64,000 deaths in the U.S. during the years 2011 to 2015. It also found that about 40 percent of Alabamians live in rural areas - and increasing growth in rural parts of the state is consistently shown to be associated with increased crash-related death rates and lower seat belt usage.
When traveling with children, be sure they are properly buckled up and are in child safety restraints appropriate for their age and weight. Infant seats, including boosters, are very effective in protecting children in crashes. According to the CDC, securing children correctly reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half. A booster seat positions the adult-designed seat belt correctly and safely, and offers children greater comfort and visibility. Older children are also a priority, and those age 12 and under should always ride in the back seat. The vehicle’s manual and the safety seat instructions are excellent tools to use to install car seats correctly. Even better, have your seat installed and checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
Being properly secured is important, and there are other tips to remember. Regardless of your age, it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving to send or receive text messages, instant messages, or e-mails. While Alabama law does not restrict drivers from making phone calls while driving, the Alabama Department of Public Safety suggests you practice caution when doing so. Follow these recommendations if you must make or receive a call while driving:
- Safely pull off the road.
- Use hands-free devices.
- Do not engage in emotionally heated conversations.
To ensure that good habits are learned and imitated, teen passengers and drivers should see their parents practicing safe driving techniques.
Whenever you get into your vehicle, remember to buckle up on every trip and ask others in your vehicle to do the same so we will have a safe and happy holiday season!
Scott Harris, M.D.
Acting State Health Officer
Page last updated: December 5, 2017