MDOT Urges Safety this Holiday Season

> JACKSON, MISS. – The days are shorter, the weather is colder and the time of Santa Claus and shopping, family and friends is quickly approaching. This Christmas, with the national average price of gasoline at its lowest level in five years (according to the American Automobile Association), motorists across the state will hit the roads, eager to spend time with loved ones. It’s one of the busiest travel times of the year, and unfortunately, that means more carelessness and more crashes. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminds all drivers that distracted driving is not only dangerous for you but puts others at risk as well.
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> In further support of National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month, MDOT urges caution behind the wheel at all times. One essential thing drivers can do is reduce the number of distractions while driving, specifically with cell phone use. That text message, phone call or email can wait—it’s not worth putting yourself or others in danger. If you have an urgent phone call, find a safe place to pull off the road where you can devote your attention to the phone call. Multi-tasking while driving is a myth, our brains cannot handle more than one task at a time.
> However, cell phones aren’t the only distraction facing drivers. Anything that takes the focus away from driving—whether it’s eating, drinking or talking to other passengers—is a distraction and could be costly, particularly with the colder temperatures. Weather temperatures are dropping across the nation, and icy roadways are no joke. The best way to avoid any driving mishaps is to be prepared. Safe driving in winter weather conditions involves a few simple practices, including slowing down and braking early to allow yourself plenty of time to stop, turning on lights to be more visible to other motorists, not using cruise control or overdrive on icy roads and keeping a winter weather driving kit in your car.
> No matter your holiday destination, safety is the theme of this holiday season. MDOT offers these tips for safe driving this Christmas break:
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> Buckle up. It provides your best defense against injury or death in a crash. Facts don’t lie: seat belts save lives.
> Don’t speed. Slow down and be mindful of construction work zones and animals darting across the roadways.
> Be aware of other drivers; don’t assume that everyone else is driving as safely as you.
> Drive sober or get pulled over. If you plan to drink, have a plan to get home safely: designate a sober driver, call a sober friend or family member or utilize your community’s public transportation or taxi system.
> In the case of icy weather, stay alert and look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Don’ panic or slam on your brakes if your car begins to skid; instead, take your foot off the gas pedal and immediately steer in the direction of the skid. Packed snow and ice may create a smooth, glass-like surface beneath your tires making it difficult to control your vehicle. Remember bridges and ramps freeze first and may be especially difficult to navigate.
> Never pass a snow plow or salt truck, and stay at least three car lengths behind the snow emergency vehicle. Don’t abandon your vehicle; the safest place to wait for help is in your car. Keep winter weather kitwith essentials such as first aid kit, cell phone charger, flashlight, water, snacks, ice scraper, snow brush, gloves, jumper cables, flares and tire chains in your car.
> Surviving your Christmas drive this year—and making it to next Christmas—can be as simple as avoiding distractions while driving and being prepared. The most important thing is to drive safely this Christmas season, and enjoy your holiday with family and friends.
> No matter where you are headed this Christmas holiday, make MDOTtraffic.com your starting point for up-to-date traffic information and road condition alerts. Additional information can be found by calling 511 for on-demand, route-specific information or by following MDOT on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MississippiDOT. The primary concern of MDOT is the safety of the traveling public. MDOT advises the motorists to pull off the road to a safe location if you need to check the website while driving.