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Over the river, through the woods: Get where you're going safely

All it takes is a split second for a car accident to happen. Then, the thing you never imagined could happen does. This scenario is perhaps more likely to occur at this time of year than almost any other in Illinois.

If you're like most people, you have parties on the calendar for nearly every weekend between now and New Year's Day. Families are getting together from all over the region and probably further away than that. Meanwhile, the weather is such that the roads can get turned into an ice rink in no time.

Car accidents are the last thing any of us want and so in a bid to hopefully make the season just a tad brighter we relay a set of tips for safe holiday travel. These come courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide and General Motors.

  • Click it. No matter how long or short a trip may be, everyone in the vehicle should buckle up for safety. The data supports the old saying that most accidents occur within 25 miles from home. But seat belt use can make them less likely to result in injury or death.
  • Be present and aware. Have you been to a shopping mall yet? More of our holiday buying may be happening online these days, but traffic is still heavy in the center parking lots in the form of vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Remind young drivers to be cautious. Many teenagers think they're all that because they have a license. Many have never driven in winter weather. They may not like it, but parents have a right to care and to issue reminders.
  • Pocket electronics. The state has a ban on all hand-held devices while driving. That ban includes composing, sending and even reading a text message while operating a vehicle.
  • Don't drink and drive. If you do choose to drink, have a designated driver or use a car service to get home.
  • Anticipate the unexpected. If you're transporting a hot dish in a slow cooker or casserole, secure it in a box in the trunk, not on a seat in the car. Best to keep those things contained and away from passengers if an accident does happen.

We can't prevent all injury-causing accidents. We can do more to see that fewer occur.

Source: SafeKids.org, "Factor in Safety in Your Holiday Travels," Tamara Grider, Nov. 20, 2015

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