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Holiday driving may cost nearly 700 Americans their lives

Holiday driving may cost nearly 700 Americans their lives

The upcoming Christmas holiday period may cost 314 people their lives on the roadways, according to National Safety Council estimates.

Another 364 fatalities are expected during the three-day New Year’s holiday period. The Council also estimates 37,200 may be seriously injuredi on the roads during the Christmas holiday, and another 41,900 during the New Year’s holiday.

“Safety is the greatest gift you can give, not only to your family but to those who share the roads with you,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Paying attention, slowing down and driving sober can ensure you and your fellow travelers make it home for the holidays.”

The two holiday periods fall at the end of a particularly deadly year on the roads. Preliminary NSC estimates indicate traffic deaths are up significantly through the first 10 months of 2016 compared with the same time period in 2015.

Tips to ensure a safer holiday season include:

• Wear a seat belt on every trip. About 160 lives will be lost over the holidays because people are not buckled up

• Make sure children are restrained in safety seats that are appropriate for their height, age and weight

• Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation. Impairment begins with the first drink

• Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue

• Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free

• Do not allow teens to drive with their friends. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent

• Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them.