Charles Owens

It happens every year around this time. I guess we can blame it on the approaching holiday shopping season, which officially gets underway on Friday. As stores become more congested, which is a good thing for our local retailers, you also unfortunately see a growing number of folks who are making poor decisions behind the wheel of a vehicle.

I’m talking about distracted, or otherwise frantic drivers, who aren’t practicing safe driving habits during the holiday season.

I know there is much to be worried about this year.

For starters we have supply-chain disruptions that are making it even more difficult to find those already hard-to-locate holiday gifts. Food, apparently, also could be a problem this year.

A turkey shortage? How in the world could that be? Not at Thanksgiving.

Well, depending upon what news article you read and what cable channel you may be listening to, there may or may not be a turkey shortage this year. But the fact that we are even talking about this is disconcerting.

Given all of the chaos we’ve endured this year, I expect to see even more panic among motorists as they navigate congested roadways and crowded shopping center parking lots this year.

I’ll give you a few examples of things I’ve witnessed during past holiday seasons. The first example would be the vehicle that conveniently ignores the stop sign in the local shopping center and pulls out right in front of you nearly causing an accident. Normally he or she is talking on a cell phone while driving. Of course, it is important for everyone to remember that a stop sign still means stop, even in the upside down, Twilight Zone world that we are currently living in.

Another good example is the driver that suddenly hits the gas peddle and cuts out in front of you in the big box department store parking lot. You soon learn the reason for this erratic driving pattern is that he or she is racing to reach an open parking space that is closer to the actual store.

You can also expect to see plenty of traffic on area roadways today, as thousands head home for the long Thanksgiving Day weekend. A few of us, including the writer of this column that you are currently reading, will be returning to work on Friday — a time when others will likely be out and about enjoying a full day of holiday shopping and Black Friday deals. Still, I might add, I have to find a way Friday to get one of those $25 mini, retro refrigerators before they are sold out. I guess this will be an early morning mission before coming into the office. But that’s a story for another day.

The point being you can expect area roadways, shopping centers and parking lots to be congested over the next few days. So be careful out there and watch out for those drivers who aren’t driving very carefully.

The holiday season doesn’t officially kick off until Friday morning. Most stores will be closed again on Thanksgiving evening this year due to the ongoing pandemic. But Friday will be crazy, pandemic or not.

So everyone should take a deep breath and slow down. There is no need for panic just because it is late November. There is still plenty of time for Christmas shopping, and there will still be some good deals to be found in the days ahead — supply chain disruptions or not.

With all of that being said it is still important for shoppers to support our local businesses and stores.

We should all do business with our local merchants — both big and small. This includes the many smaller and locally-owned stores that can be found across the region, as well as the bigger department stores and malls in our region.

With gas prices still high, it is likely that area residents will be more inclined to shop closer to home this year as opposed to traveling out of town.

Please remember to slow down, and take it easy out there. There is no need to panic just because Christmas and the holiday shopping season is fast approaching.

Please remember to stop for stop signs and red lights and while we are discussing vehicle safety I would also encourage folks to try not to hit other shoppers with shopping carts inside of those crowded stores.

Drive safely and try to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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