Keep the lights green

Published 9:37 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

Most Christmas trees celebrate the joy of the season, festively decorated with twinkling lights, dangling ornaments and glittering tinsel and dominating the living room or den of the home in which they’re located.

The Pilot Club of Suffolk’s Christmas tree, however, serves a different purpose. It is a traditional Christmas tree in that it includes lights strung across the boughs of an evergreen, but these lights are there to remind Suffolk motorists to drive safely throughout the holiday season. The lights are all green when the tree is erected, but one is changed to red for each traffic fatality the city experiences during the holiday season.

Last year, one of those green lights was replaced the very day the tree was put up. So far this year, they all remain green, and we can all hope that green is the color they will remain for the duration.

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But we can do more than hope. In our hurry to get shopping done, get to and from various office and family Christmas parties and finish our various errands so we can spend time celebrating the holiday with family and friends, it’s important to be aware of all the various distractions that we and our fellow drivers will face during the next month or so.

Slow down. Pay attention to the vehicle ahead of you. Watch the sides of the road for pedestrians preparing to cross. Stay off your mobile phone as much as possible. Refrain from texting until you’re safely stopped somewhere. And if you’ve been drinking at one of those parties, find someone to drive you home.

The rules of the road aren’t suspended just because it’s Christmas and you have so much to do. Don’t let yourself or someone else be remembered as a red light on the Pilot Club’s Safety Tree. When the holidays are over, there would be no better way to remember them than by recalling that tree with an uninterrupted string of green lights.