Vacation/Holiday Travel Tips

Christmas & New Year’s Holiday Safety

The holidays are a great time for family and friends to create many memories together. Safety when you leave the house and travel is an obvious concern for us at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, but please remember, safety begins with you.

Follow these tips to help ensure we all Arrive Alive this holiday season:

  • Observe and obey all speed limits. Speed limits may change as you drive through different types of roadways, so make sure you adjust your speed accordingly. In Florida, the limit will never be over 70 mph.
  • Drive sober, and only sober. Alcohol impairs all of the important skills needed to drive safely, such as judgement, reaction, vision and concentration. Plan ahead and find a safe way home every time – designate a driver or call a ride service.
  • Buckle up. A seat belt is your vehicle’s most important safety feature. Florida law requires that all drivers, all front seat passengers and all passengers under the age of 18 wear seat belts or the appropriate child restraints. Seat belt save lives, so buckle up every trip, every time.
  • Eliminate distractions. Texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the stereo – these are all examples of things that can take your eyes and attention off the road, which is exactly what you want to avoid. Keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and your mind on driving.

You can also download our Road Trip Checklist & Safety Tips (and check it twice) to make sure you’re doing everything you can to Arrive Alive this holiday season!

Parking Lot & Shopping Safety       

As parking areas fill during the holiday season, shoppers are often forced to park far from shopping center exits, sometimes in poorly lighted areas. Now that there is less daylight, you’re likely to find yourself entering while the sun is up and leaving after dark, so make sure to follow these tips:

  • Park as close to entrances and exits as you possibly can.
  • Always try to walk to and from your vehicle with another person. If you are shopping alone, consider walking near other shoppers in the parking lot.
  • If shopping alone and leaving at night — particularly if you’re carrying several bundles — ask a security officer to accompany you to your car. Most malls will provide that service.
  • If forced to the far reaches of a lot – or even beyond the lot – seek a spot that’s well-lit or near a well-traveled roadway.
  • Stow your purchases in the trunk, away from plain view to prevent theft. Save your most expensive purchases for last, so you can head straight home.
  • If you are going to be transporting a tree or other large cargo on your vehicle, make sure you have all the necessary equipment to tie it down properly and securely to your vehicle to prevent dangerous situations on the roadways. Any packages or other cargo inside your vehicle should not block the driver’s view from any angle.
  • Have your keys ready when you approach your vehicle. Before entering, check that no one is hiding in the back seat.
  • If you think you are being followed:
    • Don’t drive home. You would only be telling your follower where you live.
    • Stay Calm. As long as you think clearly, you’ll be in control of the situation.
    • Flash your lights and sound your horn long enough to attract attention to you, and consequently the person following you.
    • Drive to a safe location, like a law enforcement station. Do not leave this safe location until you’re sure your follower is gone.

Holiday Party Hosting

From planning the party menu to assessing how guests will get home safely once the party is over, your role as a responsible party host can keep your friends and loved ones safe.

  • Provide plenty of food to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
  • Never serve alcohol to someone who is underage.
  • Be prepared by having information for a service on hand for those who need a ride.
  • Remember, only time sobers someone who has been drinking.

Myths And Facts About Drinking

Always designate a driver when going out to celebrate. Responsible planning means identifying the person who will do the driving before your holiday celebrating begins. The designated driver is the one who is responsible for getting you home safely. Know the facts about alcohol consumption:

Myth: Coffee can sober up someone who has had too much to drink.
Fact: Only time sobers. It takes about one hour for your body to process each drink.

Myth: Hard liquor is more intoxicating than beer or wine.
Fact: A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler contain the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxication potential as 1 1/2 oz. of liquor.

Myth: Someone who has had too much to drink will look intoxicated.
Fact: Someone’s physical appearance can be misleading. One drink can impair someone’s ability to drive. Judgment is the first thing affected when someone has been drinking and important motor skills are next.


AAA and Budweiser have partnered to provide free rides to those who have had too much to drink. Adults in need of a ride can call 1-855-2-TOW-2-GO. AAA will dispatch a tow truck and will take both the driver and the vehicle home, free of charge. This service is available throughout Florida – to both AAA members and non-members. Click here for more information.

Call *FHP (*347) to report intoxicated or aggressive drivers, or if your vehicle breaks down and you need assistance. To request immediate emergency services, dial 911.