Stay safe this holiday season with a few driving tips (... Stay safe this holiday season with a few driving tips (AFP/Getty Images).

Besides being a time to stop and express our thankfulness, the holiday season means parades, turkey, family and football to many Americans as well. It also means travel, with holiday weekend being one of the busiest time of the year at airports around the country.

Late December is also one of the busiest times of the year on America's roadways as many travelers will choose to drive to their Holiday destinations. Those crowded motorways, unfortunately, tend to lead to far too many traffic related fatalities. In fact, Christmas ranks as one of the highest on the list of Most Dangerous Holidays according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.Leaf

Still, according to more recent NHTSA data, the number of traffic related fatalities has been on the decline for the past 13 quarters starting in 2005. Apparently the message about traffic safety is getting through to motorists. To help you and your loved ones stay safe during this Holiday season, we've assembled some Tips for Holiday Driving that might be useful.

Because drunk driving and road congestion contribute significantly to car accidents during times of celebration, we've included suggestions for keeping the roads clear of inebriated motorists. Using a designated driver whenever you drink is always the safest choice. It's not just drinking that can lead to accidents though.

After a long day of celebrating and eating with the family, many drivers will be extremely sleepy. According to the National Sleep Foundation's Report on Drowsy Driving, 100,000 reported crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths every year can be attributed to falling asleep at the wheel.

The fact that Christmas leads off a long Holiday weekend also means that more people are likely to get caught up in the mad dash out of town and the rush to get back at the end of the festivities. Congestion leads to frustration and frustration leads to risky behavior. Four-day weekends are notoriously dangerous for just that reason.

It all adds up to a recipe for tragedy. Still, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of being a statistic this holiday season. Obviously, the best way to stay safe on dangerous driving days would be to stay home or to fly, but many have no option but to drive. For these travelers, we recommend the following: buckle up, keep your cool, use a designated driver, stay alert and don't speed.

>>View Gallery: Tips for Holiday Driving

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