No one wants to start the New Year with a driving citation — or worse, an accident or injury. But the holidays are a prime time to get pulled over. Why? Well, we’re on the go more often, for one. And we can be more focused on the next festive event instead of the actual driving itself. While Santa has his reindeer to safely guide his sleigh, we have to rely on our vigilance and responsible choices.

Want to stay on Santa’s Nice List this holiday season? Then avoid these 3 activities that could increase your chances of being pulled over during the holidays.

1. You’ve been drinking

‘Tis the season for parties. And that often means an extra glass of wine or a shot of eggnog. But make no mistake: the police are paying extra attention to anyone who gets behind the wheel when they shouldn’t. Exhibit A: the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday marketing campaign that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rolls out. It alerts would-be revelers to the fact that they’ll be out on the street watching.

That’s because the holiday season is notoriously dangerous — an average of 300 people die in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the NHTSA says. Your best defense? DO NOT DRIVE DRUNK. Always, always have a designated driver. Call a taxi or a ride share. Or stay the night.

2. You’re driving recklessly

And no, we don’t mean doing donuts in the parking lot. We mean rushing through that yellow light because you’re trying to get to a holiday gathering on time. Or speeding down the freeway because you spent longer at the mall than you’d planned to.

During the holidays, people have a lot going on: too many commitments and a lot of stress, which means they might not be as cautious behind the wheel as they should. Remember that everyone wants to get where they’re going safely, so slow down and drive a little more courteously. We can’t think of a better way to spread holiday cheer.

3. You’re texting (or otherwise distracted)

After alcohol and speeding, the third biggest cause of driving-related fatalities is distracted driving, according to the National Safety Council. In stats compiled by the NHTSA, 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving in 2016. So you can be sure that this is high on their list of reasons to get pulled over during the holidays.

Of course, when we think of distracted driving, we immediately think of cell phone use. But other things that fall into that category are eating sugar cookies, drinking gingerbread lattes, applying glittery eye shadow — essentially anything that takes your eyes off the road.

If you absolutely must take a call or turn on your mapping app, pull over safely before engaging your phone. There’s nothing more important this holiday season than getting where you’re going safely.

Travel hacks | Car safety


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.