Driving during the holidays involves many of the same safety hazards that are present throughout the rest of the year, but the combination of dangers all at once may put drivers and passengers at elevated risk of a car accident in the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The hazards of this time of year include an increase in the number of cars on the roadways, an above-average number of drivers distracted or agitated by the holiday-related stress, a potential rise in the number of drivers affected by sleepiness behind the wheel, an uptick in drivers who consume alcohol at holiday functions prior to driving, and the winter weather conditions and daylight-related visibility issues that affect driving safety.
Below are some examples and explanations for why these dangers threaten driving safety around the holidays.
Some Factors that Increase the Chances of a Holiday Car Accident
Increased traffic. For one thing, the increase of drivers on the road becomes a concern as people begin to venture out to do holiday shopping beginning in earnest on Black Friday, when retail outlets’ advertised deals are like a starter pistol that signals the commencement of a frenzied shopping season the day after Thanksgiving. In addition to the increase in traffic due to holiday gift-giving, the roads may also be clogged with people who are doing more driving in place of other types of holiday travel, such as buses, trains, and airplanes. In this age of pandemic concerns, people who are visiting for the holidays may be more likely to travel by car to avoid exposure to COVID-19. In other cases, people who would otherwise take public transportation for local travel may choose to drive instead, adding to the number of vehicles on the roads.
Distracted driving. During the rush of activity and to-do lists during the holidays, people tend to try to fit too much in. This can cause stress, which can lead to dangerous driving distraction. Attempting to multi-task while driving is not wise. Your attention should remain on the task of driving. Trying to consult your phone for your gift shopping list, an online confirmation of a store’s hours, or a check-in text to confirm holiday party plans may seem like a timesaver, but such activities behind the wheel can easily cause an accident.
Aggressive driving. It is unfortunate, but true, that the frustration that comes with holiday stress can set the scene for inconsiderate, and even outright aggressive, driving. When drivers are in a rush, they can disregard the right-of-way rules that keep people safe on the roads; they can be dangerously forceful in changing lanes; and they can drive too fast, especially when conditions should call for slowing down. These dangerous driving behaviors are never excusable. Many accidents are caused by drivers who ignore safe-driving conventions and common courtesy in service to their own preoccupations and selfish whims.
Drowsy driving. It is no secret that the demands of the holiday season can cause many of us to feel rundown and over-stretched. When people allow their to-do list to take over, they may find that the extra time they need to make it all happen comes from the time they might otherwise spend ensuring they are well rested. Burning the midnight oil to get the house decorated, the baking done, or the gifts wrapped can have consequences later when the fatigue hits on the way home from work.
People who travel during the holidays may decide to make this year a road trip, which may include a long, monotonous drive. These drivers must ensure driving safety by getting enough sleep before hitting the road, being aware of the fatigue-inducing effects of driving, and taking frequent breaks to stave off the tedium of an extended drive.
Drunk drivers. It will come as no surprise that people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs made the list of roadway dangers, especially during the holidays. Like too many other times of the year, the winter holidays see an increase in people getting in the driver’s seat after a celebration that involved drinking or getting high. This invariably increases the chances of a serious accident.
Weather conditions. Dreaming of a white Christmas is one thing, but snow and ice for holiday drivers can easily turn into a nightmare scenario. Driving dangers are infinitely increased when drivers are faced with a blizzard or other low-visibility weather condition. Slippery road surfaces create the danger that a driver might lose control of their vehicle, putting themselves, their passengers, and others nearby in grave danger.
Reduced daylight. Visibility issues are not limited to stormy conditions. In fact, a substantial number of accidents happen when visibility is affected merely by the sun going down. Despite about three-quarters of driving occurring during the day, nighttime driving accounts for about half of all traffic deaths, according to the National Safety Council.
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risks of Holiday Driving?
Drivers should set out to drive when weather and visibility conditions are conducive to safe driving, ideally when traffic is light. They should be sure that they are sober, well rested, and in the right frame of mind to be driving.
They should check to see what kind of weather conditions are expected and plan their route in advance of their drive.
Driving rules should be obeyed for everyone’s safety, including following speed limits, reducing speeds further to suit weather and road conditions; avoiding tailgating; yielding to other road users as appropriate; and obeying traffic signs and signals.
Drivers and passengers should always use their seat belts, since all the precautions in the world may not prevent another driver’s careless actions from becoming a lethal threat.
Middletown Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help People Hurt in Holiday Car Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident during the holiday season, reach out to the Middletown car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova. Our legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and will fight to secure compensation from the at-fault party. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.