It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The Be Present activation at Southern Cross StationBoth the TAC and Victoria Police have one goal this holiday period: get people safely to their friends and family when they use the road over Christmas and New Year.

Making our way through December, the festive season is in full gear with end-of-year celebrations and preparations for Christmas. During this period, our lives become busier and so do our roads.

Historically, the end of year holiday period is a high-risk time on Victorian roads with more people driving to visit family, a greater number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists out and about with fine weather, and end-of-year functions making drink driving an increased concern.

During the festive season, more passengers, women and children under 15 are killed than at any other time of the year. Australian Transport Safety Bureau research shows crashes, where this happens, tend to involve rural locations, high-speed zones and a single vehicle, either running off the road or hitting wildlife or debris on the roads. More generally, the risk increases for people as they travel longer distances to unfamiliar areas, experience fatigue and speed.

Both the TAC and Victoria Police have launched initiatives to keep us safer during this time, encouraging us to join them in the joint responsibility of working Towards Zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Second Hand Holidays

Still from Second Hand Holidays adJoining us as we get from A to B over Christmas and New Year, Victoria Police will have more officers out on the roads to keep us safe. Officers are sharing the responsibility of reaching Towards Zero by giving up time spent with their families and friends this season to make sure we get to spend it with ours.

From December 13 Victoria Police will ramp up its presence on the state's roads for the holidays to be a visible reminder to people to take extra care and look out for each other while driving.

A new ad campaign, 'Second Hand Holidays', is also airing this year from the 20th to replace the TAC & Victoria Police's joint campaign 'The Party's Over', highlighting the police's efforts are to protect rather than punish people.

"The campaign takes a new approach that is less about warning people of the legal consequences of wrongdoing and more about highlighting the way Victorians work together to keep the community safe," Samantha Cockfield says.

Be Present

Three women dressed up as Christmas presentsThe TAC is urging people to Be Present during the holidays this year and to share the message that the best gift we can give our loved ones this Christmas is being there. At carol events across Victoria, people can dress up as a present and have their photo taken for a free personalised card or to share on social media encouraging family and friends to take extra care on our roads.

In the past the TAC has focused on remembering the lives lost on the roads and those who won't be around for Christmas. This year, in line with the Towards Zero message of shared responsibility, they want to empower people to travel safely and ensure they will be around to celebrate Christmas.

"The cards will remind your loved ones that the best gift they can give this Christmas is to be present," says TAC senior road safety manager, Samantha Cockfield. "We're at a time of year when people love to enjoy time with their family and friends, and no-one deserves to have an empty seat at the table because of a tragedy on the roads."

The giant inflatable present where people can get their photo taken is heading to nine carol events around the state attended by 80,000 carollers.

Things you can do to stay safe on the roads over the holiday period

A family packs the car for a holidayPlan ahead how you're getting to and from a destination. In particular, map out the route you want to take ahead of time if you are unfamiliar with the area you are driving through.

Give yourself plenty of time to get there and factor in rest stops.

Take regular stops if you're driving for more than two hours.

Stay within speed limits.

Drive to conditions of the road and the weather.

Ensure you're focused on the driving and not distracted by mobile devices or passengers.

If you're drinking, don't drive. Organise a designated driver, a pre-booked taxi or having a friend or family member pick you up.

Share the message of Being Present with those you care about.