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Guest Editorial

Drive safe, smart this holiday season

The holiday season is now upon us. This is a great time of year to reflect on the many joys of the season and in your own lives, to give thanks for all that you are fortunate for in your life.

I ask you also to think about what a privilege it is to own a vehicle and to drive it. With that privilege comes great responsibility.

The Washington State Patrol wants to ensure that you are safe this holiday season. I have been very concerned in recent months to see the increase in collisions and fatalities in our state due to speeding. This time of year we are very concerned about drinking and driving. I am asking you to take a few minutes to think about your own driving habits and how you can ensure that you and your loved ones will have a safe holiday season now and beyond.

• If you go to a holiday event and drink alcohol, call a taxi or choose a designated driver to get you home safely;

• Think and plan ahead, allow yourself enough time to get where you need to go so you don't need to speed to get there;

• Take your time and slow down, especially if the driving conditions warrant it and be sure to wear your seat belt;

• Be prepared for winter driving conditions: keep an emergency kit in your car with extra blankets and food and be sure to allow enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you;

• Be courteous to other drivers. Malls are crowded, stress is high and there is more likelihood to drive aggressively. Take a deep breath. Cutting off the person next to you won't get you to your destination any faster and may cause an accident.

Throughout this holiday season, the men and women of the State Patrol will be working around the clock to ensure safety on our roadways. We will specifically be watching out for excessive speed, drunk or impaired drivers, and aggressive drivers.

Please take a moment this holiday season to think about your own driving behaviors and how you can help keep roadways in our state safe.

For more information on safe driving, please go to our website: www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/traveler.htm . Thank you, happy holidays and safe driving to all."

John R. Batiste is the Chief of the Washington State Patrol.

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