Why Are There More Car Accidents around the Holidays?

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Why Are There More Car Accidents around the Holidays?

 There are countless reasons to look forward to the holiday season, including spending time with family and friends, shopping for the perfect gifts for the people on your list, attending holiday parties, and maybe even getting to enjoy a white Christmas. However, with all the shoppers and travelers on the roads, traffic is much heavier than usual. In addition, inclement weather can cause the roads to become slick with ice and snow, and the number of distracted and impaired drivers on the road also increases this time of the year. Unfortunately, this can cause a spike in car accidents during the holiday season. Many of these accidents are preventable if you avoid drinking and driving or engaging in distracted driving behaviors such as talking on the phone or texting while driving. However, if you are injured in a car accident that was caused by a motorist who was distracted or impaired, do not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.

What Are the Top Winter Holiday Driving Hazards?

Whether you are traveling long distances or simply driving your daily commute to and from work during the holiday season, there are a number of driving hazards of which you should be aware so that you can take proactive steps to avoid them. The following are some of the most common holiday driving hazards:

  • Drunk drivers. There are a lot of holiday-related events in the month of December. Whether the event is a small holiday gathering of family and friends, the annual office holiday party, or a New Year’s Eve soiree at a banquet hall, what they all have in common is that alcohol is generally served. Too often, at the end of the night, partygoers get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. In fact, according to one study, up to three times more people are killed and another 25,000 people are injured in alcohol-related car accidents between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, compared with the rest of the year.
  • Distracted drivers. This is a common problem throughout the year, but particularly during the holiday season. Motorists may be more likely to check their text messages for gift ideas, make phone calls to confirm holiday plans, or look up the name of a store so that they can enter it into their navigation system. Although this may take your attention away from the road only for a matter of a few seconds, that is all it takes to cause a devastating yet preventable accident.
  • Drowsy drivers. This is another common cause of car accidents during the holidays. Work, school, children’s activities, holiday shopping, and planning for the new year mean that there are a lot of overextended and exhausted drivers on the roads. Although drowsy driving is not generally considered as dangerous as other driving hazards, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, if you are awake for 18 consecutive hours or more, it can have the same effect on the body as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. Being awake for at least 24 hours is comparable to having a BAC of 0.10 percent, which is higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
  • Hazardous weather. During the month of December, the temperatures continue to fall and the sun sets much earlier, which means it is dark by 5:00 p.m. In addition, there is a greater chance of snow, ice, and freezing rain, which can make road conditions quite treacherous. Black ice is particularly dangerous when driving at night, because you may not see the patch of black ice until it is too late. As a result, you are more likely to hit the patch of ice and lose control of the vehicle. If there are other motorists in the vicinity, this can result in a serious car accident. Over 1,300 people are fatally injured in weather-related car accidents during the holiday season.
  • Poorly maintained vehicles. It is highly recommended that you make sure that your vehicle has been properly maintained before the cold weather arrives. That means checking the vehicle’s tires, brakes, and lights, and ensuring that all the fluids have been replenished. Proper vehicle maintenance is important all year, but particularly when the temperatures start to drop.
  • Driving in an unfamiliar area. If motorists are driving in an unfamiliar area, they may not be comfortable navigating the local traffic flow. For example, traffic circles can be confusing if you do not understand how they work. When driving in an unfamiliar city or town, there is an increased risk of a collision, particularly when the traffic is heavy and the road conditions are hazardous.

How Can I Avoid a Car Accident During the Holidays?

Although it is not realistic to stay off the roads for the month of December, there are some important safety tips that you should keep in mind when you are driving during the hectic holiday season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the period from Christmas to New Year’s Day is among the most dangerous times to be on the road. However, there are proactive steps you can take to avoid a devastating car accident over the holidays, including the following:

  • Do not drink and drive. If you are going to a holiday event where alcohol is going to be served, make sure that you have a safe ride home if you plan to have a few drinks. Whether that means calling a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft, or getting a ride with a friend who has agreed to be the designated driver, do not get behind the wheel impaired. Drunk driving accidents are one of the few types of car accidents that are completely preventable.
  • Avoid distractions. Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents in the United States. Texting and talking on the phone while driving is the most common form of distracted driving, which is concerning since using your phone to make a call or send or read a text can increase the risk of an accident by up to 23 times. All motorists should put the phone away while driving and program their phones so that they do not receive text messages or phone calls while the vehicle is moving. If you must make an important call or read a text message, pull over to a safe spot.
  • Get plenty of rest. The holidays are an extremely busy, hectic time of year, with all the shopping, decorating, party planning, and gift wrapping. It can leave you feeling exhausted even before the holidays arrive. Common signs of drowsiness include frequent yawning and blinking, drifting out of your lane, hitting the rumble strip, and missing your exit. Make sure that you get plenty of sleep each night, particularly if you are planning on taking a long road trip to visit family or friends. If there is another adult driver in the car, share the driving responsibilities so that you can rest between shifts.
  • Follow the rules of the road. All motorists are expected to follow the rules of the road at all times, but this is particularly important when there are significantly more motorists on the road, and the road conditions are less than ideal. Always follow the speed limit and slow down if the roads are covered in ice or snow. Maintain a safe following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Tailgating increases the risk of a serious rear-end collision.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Getting stuck in slow-moving traffic can be extremely frustrating, particularly if you are running late. However, it is important that you keep your temper under control and avoid aggressive behavior such as cutting off other drivers, tailgating, or sending rude hand gestures to another driver who may have cut you off. Calm down, take a deep breath, and remember that the most important thing is that you arrive at your destination safely, even if it is a little bit late.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt may not prevent a car accident, but it will protect you and the other occupants of the vehicle if you are involved in a collision. In fact, according to the CDC, seat belts reduce the risk of fatalities involving drivers and front-seat passengers by 45 percent. They reduce the risk of serious personal injury by approximately 50 percent. In addition, if you are not wearing a seat belt, you are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle in the event of a car accident. Approximately 75 percent of car accident victims who have been ejected from the car suffered fatal injuries.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Holiday-Related Car Accidents

If you are injured in a car accident during the holidays, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the financial compensation for which you are entitled for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.