With the holiday season and New Year’s Eve both in December, we decided to offer some useful advice for handling the challenges they bring, along with some general tips about driving while drowsy.

Holiday Parties

  • Historically, there is an increase in the number of people driving while intoxicated (DWI) during the holiday season, often due to parties that people attend, whether for work or with friends. Keeping this in mind, please use extra caution in the coming weeks.
  • Many of the people attending these parties have been drinking and will wisely hire Taxis and For-Hire Vehicles (FHVs), as suggested by public service announcements. More patience than usual may be required with intoxicated passengers – but by using your service, they are doing the right thing. They would otherwise be a grave danger for everyone on the road.
  • Passengers are sometimes depressed during the holiday season for personal reasons. Spreading joy will make you feel good and help them get through what can be a tough time for a variety of reasons.

New Year’s Eve

  • Listen to radio reports and read updates from a variety of news sources – whether in print or online – to get a heads up on street closings and detours caused by New Year’s Eve events.
  • Become familiar with all local police precincts. Do not take the law into your own hands if you are being abused or threatened by an intoxicated passenger.
  • Beware of large crowds – people tend to jaywalk on New Year’s Eve, causing sudden stops.
  • Rather than driving on highways, where speeding DWI drivers may be traveling, try to use alternate routes on local streets, where it is easier to take defensive driving actions.
  • Be extra pleasant to your passengers. On New Year’s Eve, you may be happily surprised by gratuities from passengers who appreciate your service on what can be a difficult and dangerous evening to work.
  • As with holiday revelers, please be patient with intoxicated passengers. It is better that they are seated in your vehicle, rather than driving drunk.

Drowsy Driving

Like drugs or alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment. It can also be fatal when driving. The drivers at highest risk include people that drive a substantial number of miles per day, those with unrecognized sleep disorders and people taking certain prescribed medications. Recognize the symptoms of fatigue:

  • Eyes closing or going out of focus
  • Irritability, restlessness, and impatience
  • Wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • Inability to remember driving the last few miles
  • Drifting between lanes or onto the shoulder
  • Abnormal speeding, tailgating, or failure to obey traffic signs
  • Back tension, burning eyes, shallow breathing or inattentiveness

Drowsy Driving Safety Tips

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule that allows adequate rest.
  • When the signs of fatigue begin to show, get off the road. Take a short nap in a well-lit area. Do not simply stop on the side of the road.
  • If drowsy driving becomes an issue, consider avoiding driving between midnight and 6:00am.
  • Keep the temperature cool in your vehicle.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours to get out of the car and walk around; exercise helps to combat fatigue.
  • Stop for light meals and snacks.
  • Drive with your head up, shoulders back, and legs flexed at about a 45-degree angle.
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Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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