According to a 2005 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two of the four deadliest days on the road are December 23, and December 24. (July 3rd and July 4th are the two days with the first and second highest crash fatalities.) And a 2013 study of traffic data by the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety reinforces that the six-day period that includes Christmas had 18% more auto accidents than the Thanksgiving period and 27% more than the days around New Year’s Day.Knowing that the shopping days before Christmas are perilous, we encourage you to protect yourself and your family by understanding some of the causes of car accidents during the holidays and taking actions to avoid these when driving this December.
Driving while Drunk or Even “Just Buzzed”
In 2007, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis reported that approximately 40% of all fatalities during the Christmas holiday period occurred in crashes where at least one of the involved drivers was alcohol-impaired. When everyone is having a good time celebrating the holidays, the tendency to overindulge becomes a reality. Although we all know not to drink and drive, the notion of “I just had a few” can result in an auto accident in which you cause injuries or death. Keep in mind, it is against the law not only to drive drunk, but also to drive “buzzed.” When celebrating the holidays, please plan ahead with a designated driver or make a contact on your cell phone of your local taxi company. And most bars offer a free taxi ride home.
The stress of holiday shopping and having to coordinate holiday events can be a huge contributor to auto accidents. In fact, the 2013 University of Alabama’s report theorizes that this is one explanation for increase auto accidents just before Christmas. When shoppers are stuck in holiday traffic, or rushing to get to their destination, they tend to get sloppy with safety and in general, the rules of the road. Just the thought of having to face huge crowds, holiday gridlock and deadlines to have everything completed on time becomes a mental distraction that can turn into an auto accident. Don’t have enough time to get everything done? You’re not the only one. Before you leave home, please take just a few moments to focus on safe driving. The malls open early and close late – you have plenty of time.
More Vehicles on the Road
During December, there are statistically more vehicles on the roads than at other times of the year, leading to the potential for more auto accidents. Compounding the problem is when out-of-towners come in to shop, visit family or vacation, particularly with the tourist industry of Florida. Long distance travelers, unfamiliar with our roads, add to the congestion. This month, anticipate that traffic will be heavier than normal and give yourself more time to maneuver in holiday crowds. Steer clear of vehicles driving erratically. And parking lots will be full – so plan on parking in the far lots and you’ll be walking a little further to burn off the extra holiday cookies.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Another reason for increased auto accidents during the holiday season is drivers skimping on vehicle maintenance and using that money to purchase gifts instead. You may need new tires or brakes but decide to let it wait until the New Year instead of giving your vehicle the attention to safety you deserve. And getting stranded on the side of the road is never fun, and it can be particularly disheartening during the holiday season. Consider it a gift to yourself to care for your car and keep up with its maintenance.
This season, don’t take a holiday from adhering to the rules of the road. Be extra careful, extra cautious and extra vigilant when driving.
We wish you Happy Holidays, and a healthy and safe New Year.
Injured in a Car Accident Over the Holidays?
Call 813-534-6319 to speak with Attorney Mike Hancock about what money you are entitled to recover for your auto accident injuries. Or email us.