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Georgia urges precautions for holiday motorists
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Forsyth County News

It may be less stressful to fill up the family car’s tank for a road trip this holiday season with lower gas prices, but a car accident can cancel out any carefree cheer.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said there are a few simple safety precautions to take before heading out for holiday travel.

“We always tell people to buckle up, slow down, drive sober and put down the cell phone, but now is also the time to turn your attention to your car,” said Harris Blackwood, GOHS director. “Walk around your vehicle. Check your tire pressure and make sure all lights are in working order.”

AAA said the following steps can ensure the safety of your vehicle during winter travel, according to a media release:
- Get a vehicle checkup that inspects the electrical system, brake system, tires, exhaust and heating
- Prepare a winter driving kit that includes a bag of abrasive material such as salt or sand, a small snow shovel, ice scraper, traction mats, flashlight, window-washing solvent, gloves, cloth or paper towels, booster cables, blanket, warning flares and a cell phone
- Correct seat position so the driver is no closer than 10 inches from the steering wheel
- Check mirrors
- Adjust seatbelts so they are positioned low across the hips and so the shoulder harness is positioned across the center of the chest

Taking these precautions is crucial curing the holiday travel season, particularly because of the increase in unbelted and alcohol-related crashes, the release said.

During the holiday period last year – Nov. 20-Dec. 31 – there were nearly 44,000 crashes that resulted in 13,142 injuries and 160 deaths in Georgia. Of those victims, 44 were not wearing seatbelts, and 18 deaths were due to an impaired driver.

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the season, but we want to make sure everyone gets where they’re going safely,” Blackwood said. “Drunk driving is completely avoidable, and it takes two seconds to buckle your seatbelt.”

While drunk driving is more notable, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. More than 1,500 people die each year from sleep-related crashes, the release said.

“Make sure you are rested and alert before taking to the highway,” Blackwood said. “And don’t try to fit too many miles into one trip. Falling asleep at the wheel puts your life and other motorists’ lives at risk.”

With severe winter weather a possibility throughout Georgia, motorists are asked to follow these safety tips when on icy roadways:
- For both rear and front-wheel skids, steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go and avoid slamming on the brakes
- For braking without anti-lock brakes, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure to the threshold of locking your brakes
- For breaking with anti-lock brakes, do not remove your foot from the brake. It will be normal to feel the brake pedal vibrate. Do not pump the pedal

For more information in winter weather driving safety tips, go to autoclubsouth.aaa.com or gahighwaysafety.org or call (404) 656-6996.