The holidays are in full swing, and that means an extra layer of responsibility and commitment for many of us. This is the time of year when our schedules ramp up and we have to factor in more events on our already full itineraries, whether it's sports, extra-curricular activities, dinner parties, or seasonal gatherings. And let's not forget about holiday shopping.

It's little wonder that parents are so distracted, making it all the more important for all of us to stay sober and maintain focus when we are behind the wheel of our cars, especially if you road conditions are precarious.

This year President Obama has declared December National Impaired Driving Month, a call to everyone to keep our roads safe during the holiday season. December is actually one of the busiest times of the year on the roads. The sheer number of drivers goes up as people scramble to finish their holiday shopping and get to any number of holiday events. Factor in winter road conditions, distractions from tech gadgets, and holiday socializing that often includes the consumption of alcohol, and the situation can become dangerous, if not lethal.

For this reason it is critical for people of all legal driving ages to always be sensible and help to keep our roads safe. Here are 10 ways to get it done.

1. Never Drink and Drive

Enjoying a little brandy in you eggnog during the holidays is perfectly understandable, but getting behind the wheel afterward is just a really bad idea. Fatal accidents linked to alcohol consumption and DUIs increase this time of year. If you've had something to drink, don't drive. Call a taxi, use public transportation, or call a family member or friend to come pick you up.

2. Designate a Driver

If you're out with friends having a few cocktails, designate a driver. Work it out so that at least one of you will remain sober in order to drive everyone home safely. Make it rewarding for this individual by buying them dinner in order to let them know how important their job is.

3. Be Aware of Other Drivers

Just because you are being safe doesn't mean other drivers are doing the same. Take the necessary precautions when you and your family are in the car, and be aware of the behavior of those around you. Be especially careful in areas where people are socializing or during certain hours when people like to consume alcohol, particularly the late evening.

4. Be Careful With Drugs and Medication

Drugs and medicine can both have a significant impairing effect on our driving, similar to having a few drinks. When taking drugs, even prescription medication, do not get in your car because that is akin to driving under the influence of alcohol.

5. Get Enough Sleep

Experts now believe that driving when you're exhausted is not unlike driving while drunk. The simple reality is that accidents happen all the time when people are tired, so make sure you get enough sleep; it will make you feel better and more alert, and it might help you live longer.

6. Always Buckle Up

Always make sure everyone in your car has their seat belt fastened. Seat belts save lives and will protect your family in the event of an accident. Even if you're taking a short trip just down the street, make sure your your family is safely buckled in. Parents need to protect themselves and set the proper example by wearing their seat belts, as well.

7. Be Organized and Realistic

A significant reason for reckless driving this time of year is being harried and rushed, and this usually stems from trying to do too many things. It therefore behooves all of us to be organized and to try to accomplish a reasonable number of tasks while not overdoing it. Be organized and don't get too ambitious because there is always tomorrow to get it done.

8. Set Aside Enough Time

Many of us are rushing against the clock, and that means driving quickly to get to all the places we need to be. Arrange your schedule to allow for plenty of time in-between events, and leave your house early enough so as not to be rushed.

9. Put Away the Smartphone

Call me old, but I find texting and driving the most ridiculous thing ever. Most regular daily trips in the car are not that long, taking anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, during which time any person can survive without the use of their phone. If it's urgent, pull over and talk or text, but otherwise, just turn off your phone and pay attention to the road. It could save your life.

10. Be Flexible and Let It Slide

I think we can agree that driving recklessly to get to a hockey practice or violin lesson is not a rational thing to do, and yet, we do it all the time. We need to keep things in perspective and remind ourselves that being late now and then is not worth compromising our family's safety.

From all of us at Parenting Squad, we wish you a happy, enjoyable, and above all, safe holiday season.