In stores, on roads: How to stay safe this holiday season

Experts offer advice for road, shopping, trip safety as Thanksgiving nears


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Northeast Florida safety experts want you to have a safe and fun holiday season, and they've pinpointed three areas that should be on your radar with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's around the corner.

Road safety

  • Distracted Driving. This includes driving while using cellphones for both talking and texting holiday messages to friends, coworkers and family. It also includes driving while checking out store hours and locations using a smartphone to surf the web.
  • Impaired Driving. Year-end dinners, parties and celebrations typically involve consumption of alcohol, and in too many cases, use of drugs.  
  • Pressured Driving. The winter holidays typically bring with them increased pressures, especially financial pressures and the stress created by trying to do too much in a short time span. Drivers often react to these pressures by driving too fast for conditions, making aggressive lane changes, failing to yield right-of-way, and generally disregarding the needs and safety of others using the road. 
  • Fatigued Driving. Increased demands and activities during the winter holidays often mean significantly reduced sleep schedules. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who slept six-seven hours a night were twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping eight hours or more, while people sleeping less than five hours increased their risk four to five times.

Shopping safety

When you are shopping during the holidays, it gets darker earlier, so you need to observe safety tips in the parking lot, such as:

  • Park as close to entrances and exits as you possibility can.
  • Try to walk to and from your vehicle with another person. If you are shopping alone, consider walking near other shoppers.
  • If shopping alone and leaving at night -- particularly if you’re carrying several bundles -- ask a security officer to accompany you to your car. Most malls will provide that service.
  • Stow your purchases in the trunk, away from plain view, to prevent theft. Save your most expensive purchases for last, so you can head straight home.
  • Have your keys ready when you approach your vehicle. Before entering, check that no one is hiding in the backseat.

Trip safety

  • Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
  • Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  • Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
  • In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. 

The Northeast Florida Safety Council is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, public service organization dedicated to promoting good health, saving lives, preventing accidents and maintaining a safe environment through workplace safety programs, road safety training programs and community service. 

With four locations throughout the First Coast, NEFSC offers classroom safety courses in addition to online training. 

For more information about the organization’s services, call 904-399-3119 or visit Jaxsafety.com.

About the Author: