The holidays can be a joyful and stressful time of year. Everyone seems to be on the go, running errands, going shopping and taking road trips. When planning for the holidays, North County Hospital, Safe Kids Vermont and General Motors, partners in keeping kids safe in and around cars for nearly two decades, offer seven simple tips that can keep families safe on the road this holiday season and always:

1. Remember to buckle up every ride, every time, whether it’s the long trip to visit family or around the block to the grocery store.
2. Parking lots are busier during the holidays. Watch out for distracted pedestrians and drivers who may not be paying attention to cars, especially when backing out of parking spaces.
3. For parents of teens, remind them to be extra alert during this holiday season, when road and weather conditions are more challenging even for experienced drivers.
4. Commit to keeping your electronics out of your hand. No text message or playlist is worth the risk of a ticket or an injury.
5. If you are headed to a party and plan to drink alcohol, designate a driver or use a car service to make sure you get home safely.
6. Expect the unexpected. You never know when you have to stop abruptly, so keep hot foods, large gifts and anything that can become a projectile in the trunk.
7. Remember when traveling in large groups, all vehicle occupants need their own seat belt or correctly installed car seat, even for short rides.

“The holidays can be an amazing time of year, but it can also be a time when our attention slips to other priorities instead of safety,” said Jay Wood of Newport Ambulance Service, and a member of Safe Kids Vermont Coalition. “Making sure that we take those couple of moments to refocus and pay attention to the small details can be the difference in making sure our families have a safe and happy holiday this year.”

“We want to remind parents that car seats and seat belts save lives,” said Beth Barnes, Community Outreach Specialist at North Country Hospital. “As we travel in larger groups of family and friends, make sure every passenger has a seat belt or a properly fitted car seat. It’s easy to forget simple safety steps in our holiday planning, but it only takes a few moments to make sure everyone is safe.”

“Around the holidays, traffic is heavier and stress levels are higher,” said Jeff Boyer, member of the Safe Kids Worldwide board of directors and vice president of global vehicle safety at General Motors. “We want to make sure families remember safety on the road – don’t be an aggressive driver, especially in busy shopping areas or during rough winter weather conditions – and remind teens to do the same during this time of year.”