It is that time of year again when we all want to celebrate the holidays with family and friends in all corners of the country. Unfortunately, it is also the time of year when safety organizations start to see a considerable uptick in car accidents. Each year, the holiday season spells danger for anyone on the road. If you need to travel for your festivities, please do so with an extra grain of caution.
Quick Facts About Dangerous Holiday Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- More than 3,000 people lost their lives in December 2016.
- About one-in-four fatal car accidents in December are caused by drunk drivers.
- On average, 300 drivers are killed in a drunk driving crash each year between December 25th and January 1st.
According to the American Safety Council, Christmas and New Year’s Day repeatedly take top spots among the most dangerous days for driving each year. A majority of car accidents during Christmas happen the night of Christmas and the afternoon of Christmas Eve. On New Year’s Day, approximately 50% of all fatal car accidents involve alcohol.
Why is Holiday Driving So Dangerous?
There are a few reasons why holiday driving can become so dangerous:
- Intoxication: As it can be seen with a quick look at the above statistics, intoxicated driving is a serious problem during the holidays. People tend to reach for the wine, whiskey, and eggnog when they want to relax with their friends and family in front of a fireplace. Unfortunately, many lose track of how many sips they’ve had and try to head home after the party when they should’ve stayed a few more hours to sober up.
- Haste: No one likes being the one person who shows up late for a Christmas party and making everyone wait to open presents. To this end and during the holidays, you are much more likely to encounter another driver who is in a hurry because they’re running late to one event or another.
- Increased traffic: With more people leaving their neighborhoods and cities to visit friends for the holidays, it is only natural that the roads get more clogged with traffic. Naturally, the more cars there are on the road, the more likely two of them will collide into each other due to a mistake or lapse in judgment.
- Poor weather: Depending on where you are traveling for the holidays, you could encounter some inclement weather that makes driving a danger. Here in Florida, you don’t have to worry about snow and ice on the road, usually. But if you are heading out of the state for the holidays, there’s no knowing what sort of poor weather conditions you could drive through.
Tips to Stay Safe When Driving During the Holidays
If we know that holiday driving is more dangerous and why it is, the next step is doing what we can to make it safer. Everyone has the responsibility to drive safely and help reduce the chances of anyone getting into an auto accident. With just a little bit of preplanning, you can do your part in keeping the roads safe for everyone this holiday season.
Remember these tips before you depart for the next holiday party:
- Know your route: If you are heading across town or out of state to visit family and friends, make certain you know your route ahead of time. Load your destination into a GPS app on your phone, which should tell you about any expected delays and alternate routes. Knowing where you are on your route helps keep you on pace without the feeling that you should be going faster.
- Leave early: Assuming it normally takes you 30 minutes to get to your holiday party destination, plan for it to take an hour due to holiday traffic. Showing up a little early never hurt anyone. Once again, a pathfinding app on your smartphone can generally give you a good idea about how soon you should leave to make it to your destination on time. You can even set most apps to plan a route based on when you want to arrive.
- Drive defensively: Do not be surprised when you see the large increase in traffic on the roads and highways. Instead, be prepared to drive more defensively than ever to stay out of accidents caused by negligent drivers. Allow people to merge, don’t run yellow lights, keep a 3-second [TM1] distance between your car and the one in front of you, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and so forth.
- Choose a designated driver: Always choose a designated driver when celebrating the holidays with spirits. Driving “buzzed” is the same as driving drunk if your normal faculties are impaired. So just don’t do it. Ask your party’s host if you can stay the night in case you have no sober driver available, or consider an Uber or Lyft.
Were you hit by a negligent driver while heading out to a holiday gathering? Todd Miner Law in Orlando wants to know what happened. Call us at 407-894-1480 and we can let you know during an initial consultation if you have a valid claim that we can help you pursue.