Is Driving around the Holidays More Dangerous?

Winter Driving

The holiday season tends to be the time of year when motorists are most distracted behind the wheel. In terms of fatalities, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July are consistently the deadliest driving days of the year. However, with the dynamic of winter weather, holiday driving is especially dangerous.

Typically, the days leading up to the holiday are when car accidents occur and not the holiday itself. As people take to the road to visit family and friends, go shopping, or attend festivities, there is more traffic congestion on the road than usual and the chances of getting involved in a car accident increases as well. The holiday season usually begins around Halloween, and motorists are going to want to know how to avoid holiday driving dangers.

Holiday Driving Awareness Basics

Here are some tips to keep you safe when you take to the road for the holiday season.

Drunk drivers are often associated with festivities centered on New Year’s Eve. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 43 percent of all deaths on Halloween were alcohol related based on data from 2009 to 2013. However, the rest of the holiday season also warrants being cognizant of drunk drivers on the road.

It is worth nothing that during Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, two to three times more people perish in alcohol-related accidents compared with the rest of the year, with roughly 25,000 people suffering personal injury in car accidents related to drinking and driving.

Always a concern no matter the time of year, encounters with distracted drivers can increase during the holiday season as motorists utilize cell phones to call or text friends and family, look for holiday gifts, or search for directions to a store. The holiday season presents ample opportunities to become distracted and present challenges for other drivers on the road.

Another issue of people drinking and driving is that it also produces drowsy drivers as holiday festivities unfold. Motorists tend to drive to and from parties and often exert themselves in the process, which can result in driver’s feeling fatigued, along with causing slower reaction times.

Drivers who have not received adequate sleep are at a high risk of being in a car accident. The NHTSA reports that approximately 824 people died as a result of drowsy driving in 2015, with industry experts expecting car accidents from drowsy drivers to keep rising.  

Additionally, the NHTSA states that drowsy driving causes an estimated 100,000 car accidents annually, which accounts for an average of 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Drowsy driving can be as risky as a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

We all were new drivers on the road at one point in our lives, and some drivers may not have the experience it takes to drive safely during the holiday season because of inexperience as traffic becomes congested. Also, the holidays often involve out-of-town drivers who are not as familiar with a location, and they can make abrupt driving maneuvers such as making sudden turns, lane changes, and exits.

Drivers need to be alert for motorists who are not familiar with the surrounding area as the chances of a car accident surges during the holiday season.

With the holiday season being in the fall and winter, weather hazards are bound to present driving obstacles. Whether it is fog, rain, ice, sleet, or snow, winter weather driving makes roads more hazardous. Roughly one-fourth of all weather-related vehicle accidents occur on asphalt that is icy or snowy, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, with approximately 15 percent of car accidents happening when snow or sleet is falling.

Snow, ice, and slush conditions are responsible for 1,300 people dying annually because of hazards due to holiday weather. The Federal Highway Administration reports that 22 percent of all car accidents are weather related, and it is best to stay home when roads are dangerous because of winter weather.

Drivers who spend a great deal of time on the road, such as truck drivers, must be skilled at dealing with such adverse situations that can make the difference between life and death.

The holidays present many opportunities for people to attend festivities, which can result in people speeding to and from their destinations. According to the NHTSA, one-third of all car accident deaths are the result of drivers who go over the speed limit, accounting for the second-highest cause of car fatalities, with over 13,000 deaths each year. Extreme speeding is also the third leading dynamic in all vehicle crashes. It is better to arrive late and in one piece than risk speeding and increase your chances of being involved in a car accident.

Holiday Drunk Driving Statistics

Drunk drivers during the holidays attend celebrations that account for a 16 percent surge in adults to drink, which increases the chances of alcohol-related car accident fatalities. On Christmas alone, 140 Americans lose their lives in alcohol-related accidents.

The most traveled holiday of the year is Thanksgiving, and the night before the holiday is the busiest time of the year for bars. From the night before Thanksgiving until the end of the year, roadways get more hazardous because of increased travel and an uptick in holiday celebrations.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day also increases the likelihood of being involved in car accidents because of drunk drivers, accounting for the biggest risk of being involved in a car accident because of an inebriated driver than any other point of the year. New Year’s Day is also the most perilous time for pedestrians, with 123 Americans annually losing their lives in alcohol-related accidents over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

According to AAA, an estimated 104.8 million Americans drove to their holiday destinations in 2019. The organization also reports that 91 million Americans take road trips between December 23 and January 1, and a projected 42 million Americans travel by car to Thanksgiving. Also, road rage and aggressive driving are more rampant around the holiday season.

Holiday Safety Driving Tips

Here are several tips that drivers can follow when facing dangerous driving conditions this holiday season, including the following:

  • Eliminate distractions. During the holiday season, it is best to mitigate any potential distractions and stay focused on the roadway.  Motorists who avoid distractions can remain attentive on the road and can quickly recognize drowsy, impaired, or distracted drivers by their actions; also, they can navigate snow, ice, and other weather hazards.
  • Avoid compromised driving. Drivers should avoid any type of impaired driving, including alcohol and drug use, along with the side effects of medication. Winter weather is the flu and cold season, which causes some motorists to take medication that can cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, or mental lethargy.
  • Plan ahead. Drivers who are aware of any potential hazards that they will encounter on their trip often fare better in avoiding them by planning ahead. Drivers can avoid incoming storms, for example, or the dangers of being on the road with drunk drivers.

Media Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello Help People Who Have Been in an Accident over the Holidays

If you or a family member has been in an accident over the busy holiday season, reach out to the Media car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello. Our legal team will investigate the cause of your accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Learn more at a free consultation by filling out an online registration form or calling 610-892-4940. Our office is in Media, Pennsylvania. We represent clients in Media, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster, Montgomery County, Norristown, Philadelphia, Reading, West Chester, and throughout Pennsylvania.