By Debbie Hersman
This week begins a season of celebrating with family and friends and reflecting on the year that has passed. Many of us will load our families into cars or board an airplane, in fact AAA predicts that 94.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home this holiday season; with nearly 86 million of those traveling by automobile.
Unfortunately, this time of year is also one of the deadliest times on our Nations’ roadways. During last holiday season, 830 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes; every 54 minutes a life was tragically lost at the hands of an impaired driver.
As you make last minute preparations for your trip, here are a few tips to make traveling safer for everyone:
• Don’t operate any vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or fatigue.
• Put away phones and other devices while driving.
• In the event of a crash, your best defense is a restraint. If you’re traveling by automobile, make sure you and all of your passengers are buckled up. If you’re traveling with children, whether by car or airplane, make sure that they are properly secured in a size-appropriate restraint system, even those under age 2!
As we prepare to spend time with loved ones, we send our appreciation to those professionals, in the transportation and public safety sectors, who are on duty during the holidays. Thank you for what you do every day, but especially in the coming week when being at work, rather than with your families, is a sacrifice you make to serve others.
On behalf of the NTSB Board Members and staff – we hope everyone that travels stays safe this holiday season and wish you the best in 2014!