During the holiday season, it is common for the number of auto accidents to increase compared to other times of the year. With an influx of tourists, endless festivities, and shopping rushes, our roads are bustling to the max, which increases the likelihood of an accident, especially when combined with other factors such as drinking and driving. According to the National Safety Council (NSC) Injury Facts Report, in 2017, 329 people died on New Year’s Day, 463 on Thanksgiving Day, and 299 on Christmas Day on U.S. roads.
Common types of holiday season auto accidents
While an accident can happen for any number of reasons, we tend to see the risks of certain behaviors becoming more rampant over the holiday period. These may include:
- Drunk driving. – End-of-year parties are a time to reflect, celebrate, and let loose, which often includes drinking alcohol. With holiday events in full swing, drivers need to be more mindful than ever about alcohol consumption and impaired motorists. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that there were 781 fatalities during December due to drunk-driving-related-crashes.
- Drowsy driving. – With packed schedules, late festivities, and holiday stress, it is normal to feel fatigued during this time of year. Few people think about the consequences of driving tired, but it is critical to keep in mind that drowsy driving is another form of impaired driving because your focus is not as sharp, and your reaction time may be slower. The NHTSA reports that there were 4,111 fatalities in motor vehicle crashes involving drowsy driving between 2013 and 2017. In 2017 alone, there were 91,000 crashes attributed to drowsy driving.
- Increased traffic. – Over the holiday season, hundreds of thousands of people spend more time on the road than usual. Whether traveling to a family gathering, going on vacation, or just going to and from stores and parties, people spend more time in their vehicles this time of year. Because of the influx of automobiles on the road, it’s more likely that an accident will occur.
- Distracted driving or aggressive driving in traffic. – It is known that heavy traffic can cause tempers to flare, especially when the driver feels rushed or when another driver is being discourteous. Additionally, some drivers may use his or her time in traffic to use their handheld devices, or they may have impatient kids in the backseat demanding attention. Distracting and aggressive driving behaviors can contribute to an accident in the blink of an eye yet are easily avoided.
Tips to avoid holiday season auto accidents
- Plan on alternative transportation if you will be drinking alcohol. If you consume more than you planned, leave your car and take a ridesharing service or try AAA’s free tow-to-go program by calling (855) 286-9246.
- Be on the lookout for drunk drivers. Signs of drunk driving include drifting in and out of traffic lanes, frequent acceleration, and deceleration, driving off of the road, delayed response to traffic signals. Check out this list, “How to spot a drunk or drugged driver,” from MADD for more tips.
- Get enough rest. If you feel too tired to drive, do not. Catch a ride with someone or use a ridesharing service. If you are on a road trip, take frequent breaks and try to share the driving responsibility with someone else so that you both have time to rest.
- Give yourself more time than usual to get to your destination. Traffic will most likely be heavy. Make a plan so that you do not feel rushed and make a mistake on the roads as a result.
- Vow to be more vigilant and patient behind the wheel. It is best to be in a relaxed frame of mind before getting in the car and then to prepare for long waits in traffic by making your experience more pleasurable. For example, create a playlist that will help you and your passengers enjoy your time in the car.
Please be careful as you enjoy your holiday celebrations this year and use extra caution on the roads. If you were injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, we invite you to contact us to request a free consultation at panterlaw.com or at (305) 662-6178. We wish you an enjoyable and safe holiday season!