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By Derrick Hewitt
This time of year is filled with good feelings and cheer. But as a member of the RCMP, too often I have had to deliver bad news to parents, or a spouse, or another other family member that their loved one did not survive a motor vehicle collision. The intention is not to dampen your Christmas spirit or prevent you from celebrating the holidays, but to ensure you keep safe and enjoy yourself. As people are enjoying the holidays with their family and loved ones, police officers along with other first responders and care givers will be working.
To assist you with having an enjoyable holiday season here are a few things to keep in mind:
– Whether you are attending a work-related event or visiting with family or friends, if you are partaking in some holiday cheer, don’t drive impaired. Plan ahead and arrange for a safe ride home, by having a designated driver or by calling a cab.
– If you have valuables or Christmas presents in your vehicle make sure you lock them in the trunk or in a covered storage area out of site. Thefts from vehicles can occur at any time of the year, but this becomes an opportune time for would be thieves.
– If you are traveling for the holidays check the weather ahead of time and allow extra time for changing weather conditions. If the weather is bad stay home, even if you have been planning on the trip or just going visiting. Better to wait than not make it safe to your destination.
– Top up your vehicle ahead of time and make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road. Brush all the snow off your vehicle, this will keep it from sliding down onto your windshield and blocking your view or falling off onto someone else’s vehicle.
– When traveling with children make sure they are properly secured in the appropriate car seat or booster seat. Keep in mind that kids, both big and small get excited this time of year and games or activities for them in the vehicle will help keep them occupied during the trip.
– Don’t get distracted, many drivers get caught up in other things while driving. Leave the cell phone alone. Pull to the side of the road in a safe place if you don’t have a blue tooth.
– Don’t over pack your vehicle so that you get distracted by items in the vehicle or your view gets obstructed by items.
– Keep your distance, even if the weather is nice, patchy ice or changing weather conditions can cause people to slow down, lose control of their vehicle or suddenly stop. Giving yourself an extra couple of seconds than normal will help you arrive safe.
– Keep your cool, too often holiday spirit is ruined by poor driving habits, be aware of fatigue. Late nights and early morning can have an affect on our alertness and response times while driving.
The Prince District RCMP hopes that these tips will assist you in having a Merry Christmas as well as a safe and joyful New Year!
Sgt. Derrick Hewitt is District Commander of the RCMP Prince District Detachment.