Dashing Through The Holidays - Road Safety Tips

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it seems everyone is in a hurry trying to wrap up their shopping and enjoy festive celebrations. But as you're dashing around town, it's important to keep road safety top of mind, as the streets are busier and drivers are distracted by their holiday to do lists.

Here are a few friendly tips to stay safe on the roads during the holiday season.

Don't drink and drive. In Ontario, police and the Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) program will be out in full force, with similar programs operating in other provinces. Remember, if you're going to a holiday party and plan to indulge in an alcoholic drink or two, don't drive. Stay the night or plan a safe alternative to get home; take a cab, designate a driver, or take public transit.

Slow down. In the rush to finish your holiday shopping, baking and decorating, you may be tempted to speed. But police presence is greater on the roads both day and night throughout the season, and a speeding ticket and possible demerit points are not likely on your holiday wish list.

Wear your seatbelt. That bulky winter coat may not quite fit under your seatbelt, but police are watching for every infraction. Always buckle up - otherwise you could receive a ticket. You'll also be safer if you happen to have an accident in the inclement weather conditions that prevail during the holiday season.

Don't talk and drive. Calling your aunt while driving between stores to find out which colour tie to give your uncle this year is a dangerous distraction, and in most Canadian provinces you could receive a fine.

Watch for emergency vehicles. In an emergency, every second counts. When you hear a siren, be sure to pull off to the side of the road to allow the ambulance, police car or fire truck to pass. If you're driving on a highway and see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights parked off to the side, move over to the left if it is safe to do so, to leave a safe space around the vehicle.

Practice accident awareness. If you are involved in an accident, remember: Safety First! Check that everyone is okay, and if the accident is serious, call 9-1-1. If the vehicles can be driven, as is the case in most fender benders, move them off to the side of the road so you're not blocking traffic, and turn on your hazard lights to warn approaching vehicles.

Clear your snow and ice. After a snowfall, it is important to remove the snow and ice from every window of your vehicle to ensure you have an unobstructed view all around — clearing a small space on your windshield to see through is not enough! And don't forget to clear off the roof of your car as well — chunks of snow and ice dislodging or blowing off as you drive can be a hazard to other drivers.

Keep an emergency kit in your trunk. If you get stranded in the cold during harsh winter weather, an emergency kit is a must. Your wish list should include blankets, a shovel, salt, an ice scraper, a flashlight and flares. Extra windshield washer fluid is also a good idea in case you run out while you're driving in slushy conditions.

By staying safe on the roads you can enjoy a happier holiday season and keep your auto insurance rates to a minimum. If a new car insurance policy is on your holiday shopping list, visit InsuranceHotline.com to compare rates.