The bright magic of the holiday season often arrives as we in Minnesota endure the coldest, darkest days of the year. Of course, that’s offset by moments of joy as many of us celebrate important religious and cultural holiday traditions like Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, which can mean local festivities and extra travel to spend time with family and friends. We also look forward to celebrating what lies ahead in 2024, with both New Year’s Eve festivities and New Year’s Day gatherings for football fans.

All this fun typically comes with extra miles behind the wheel for shopping, trips to special events and, for some of us, choosing to use alcohol, drugs and other substances that can impair driving ability, especially when it’s cold, dark and snowy. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, from 2018 through 2022, the state recorded 11,000 DWI incidents from the day before Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

On my holiday wish list this year is that each of us adds some important gifts to our celebrations. Gifts that cost nothing but are priceless when it comes to saving lives and preventing devastating crash injuries. This year, let’s give ourselves, our loved ones, passengers, other drivers and pedestrians we encounter the gifts of:

• Slowing down.
• Putting our phones down.
• Making sure everyone in our vehicle is wearing a seat belt or a properly installed and used child safety seat.
• Designating a sober driver before we drink or use other substances.
• Chilling out — and I don’t mean driving with the windows open when it’s -20 — take a deep breath during frustrating moments and avoid road rage.

The greatest gift we can give our loved ones this season is to arrive safely and travel home safely. Wrap up some safe driving behaviors this year and make sure you’re keeping yourself, your passengers and others you encounter on our roadways safe and able to celebrate the holidays for many years to come.

Wishing you and yours a safe, happy holiday season and bright new year.

Lisa Kons
Minnesota NETS Coordinator

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays!