Practice safety as you shop and travel during holiday

Posted 12/20/17

Today is one of the busiest travel days, as motorists either drive to or from the local area for Christmas. It is also one of the heavier days for shopping for the holiday.

Motorists and shoppers …

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Practice safety as you shop and travel during holiday

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Today is one of the busiest travel days, as motorists either drive to or from the local area for Christmas. It is also one of the heavier days for shopping for the holiday.

Motorists and shoppers need to practice safety and know the potential of things that can happen today.

AAA — The Auto Club estimates nearly 100 million will be on roads over the holidays nationwide. That has led to local and state law enforcement being extra wary of impaired drivers or those who do not follow traffic laws.

Arriale Tabson, public information for the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, said that the THSO is partnering with state and local law enforcement agencies to increase impaired-driving enforcement through Dec. 31, surrounding the holiday season. The THSO’s statewide Booze It & Lose It campaign is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over nationwide mobilization.

“We ask all Tennesseans to please drive safely this holiday season,” said THSO Director Vic Donoho. “In December 2016, more than 500 traffic crashes statewide involved a drunk driver. Our state and local law enforcement partners will be out in full force to secure Tennessee roadways. We want everyone to make it home safely, so please designate a sober driver.”

Lt. James Bradford, communications director for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, said that this campaign will increase patrols on the roadways to look for speeders and seat belt violators, while also targeting intoxicated drivers who are endangering themselves and others.

"Please be mindful there will be increased traffic on roadways which will require drivers to leave earlier than normal to get to destinations," Bradford said. "A large number of crashes are attributed to following too close, particularly at highway speeds where it is easy to underestimate the distance required to stop or avoid a hazard.

"This holiday season the sheriff’s office will have no tolerance with drivers who decide to drive while intoxicated or recklessly," Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson added.

There will not only be additional traffic patrol by both the BCSO and Cleveland Police Department, but the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in force watching the major thoroughfares.

There will not only be additional traffic because it is the Christmas holiday, but gas prices have dipped to levels that motorists will like.

"Gulf Coast refineries have completely recovered from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and are now flooding the market with fuel in anticipation of strong demand during the year-end holidays," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA - The Auto Club Group. "AAA forecasts a record-setting 97.4 million Americans will take a road trip during the final 10 days of the year.

While many are traveling to destinations outside Cleveland and Bradley County for Christmas, many are still shopping for those special holiday gifts and food.

Sgt. Evie West of the Cleveland Police Department said the holiday season is filled with happiness and celebration, "but for criminals, it can be a time of opportunity. Unfortunately, there are criminals who use the holidays to target victims who may be distracted by the busy season. It is during this time when busy people become careless and vulnerable to theft."

West provided these holiday shopping tips:

Driving tips & preventing auto break-ins

Avoid driving alone or at night.

Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.

If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.

Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.

Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.

Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.

Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.

Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.

Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.

When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.

Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.

Automated teller machine (ATM) safety

If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a mall or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.

Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone standing near you.

Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.

Shopping

Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

Dress casually and comfortably.

Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.

Always carry your Tennessee Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.

Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.

Keep cash in your front pocket.

Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.

Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, parking lots and bus stops.

Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

Watson stated, “Shoppers need to make sure they are not neglecting their safety to ensure they don’t become a victim of criminal activity. This time of year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the large crowds and the extended business hours.

"These factors, coupled with the usual distraction of shopping, create a more favorable environment for thieves," he added.

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