Holiday driving, safety

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope you safely celebrate this holiday with food, family and friends. If you plan to hit the road to get to your turkey day holiday celebration, keep in mind that AAA predicts 43 million people nationwide who plan to travel at least 50 miles form home. Here in California, 5.4 million people plan to go that distance at the very least to reach their holiday destination. Of those Golden State travelers, 4.7 million plan to get there by motor vehicle. Please, if you plan to be behind the wheel this holiday weekend:
  • Make sure your chariot is road ready. For example, check the tread wear and air pressure in your tires, look at your belts, hoses and fluids, and clean your windows inside and out, as well as your license plate and headlights, signal lights and break lights.
  • Plan your route, while also having a plan B in case a traffic snafu derails plan A.
  • Check the weather report along your travel route and stock your car accordingly.
  • Conserve fuel use by obeying the speed limit, making sure your vehicle is in good working order, avoiding hard starts and stops, and traveling light.
  • Do not drive while tired, distracted or under the influence of mind altering substances, including alcohol, prescription and over the counter medications, and other drugs -- legal or otherwise.
If you do plan to drink or use some other substance to help you celebrate, perhaps call on AAA's Tipsy Tow program. The program will operate from 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to 6 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 – or AAA-HELP – to summon a tow truck to will ferry the driver, his or her passengers and their vehicle home for free for up to 10 miles. More drug DUI arrests than alcohol More drivers are testing positive for drugs than alcohol, reported the California Office of Traffic Safety. In a recent study, the state safety agency found that of the 14 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs that may impair driving than did for alcohol, 7.3 percent. Of the 14 percent of drugged drivers, 7.4 percent were under the influence of marijuana, the OTS reported. That's slightly more than the 7.3 percent of drivers who tested positive for alcohol consumption. “This federally funded survey is the first of its kind ever undertaken by a state,” said Christopher J. Murphy, OTS director. “These results reinforce our belief that driving after consuming potentially impairing drugs is a serious and growing problem.” Of the drivers who tested positive for alcohol, 23 percent also tested positive for at least one other drug, a combination that can increase the effects of both substances. What's more, 26.5 percent of drivers who tested positive for marijuana also tested positive for at least one other drug. Because drug-impaired driving is under reported and toxicology testing is expensive, the OTS is funding programs to better train officers to detect drug-impaired drivers. Meanwhile, Gov. Gerry Brown recently signed legislation that moves alcohol, drugs and alcohol plus drugs into separate sections of the vehicle code. The change will help the state better track DUI arrests and respond to new and more detailed information. Think public safety If you are on the road this holiday weekend and see someone who appears to be driving while under the influence or is otherwise a danger to the public, such as weaving, driving erratically including speeding up and slowing down, cutting people off, etc., don't hesitate to dial 911 and provide the operator with location, and description of the vehicle, including license plate number, make and model. And if possible, describe the driver and any passengers.
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