Common Roadside Risks of Winter Holiday Travel
Although traffic accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, your risk of suffering a collision increases depending on the season. Environmental factors play a key role in many seasonal accidents, but the scariest factor that leads to heightened collision periods is none other than holiday drinking combined with travel.
Summer and Winter are the two most dangerous seasons for driving due to the fact hat they have the most concentrated number of “partying” holidays—Independence Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course New Year’s Eve. All of these holidays not only elicit the need to travel, but also the implied permission to drink, and drink heavily…after all, it’s a celebration, right?
Unfortunately, the celebratory mindset of eat, drink, and be merry is what causes thousands of accidents and deaths per year. A high percentage of these holiday accidents occur over the course of a single 10 day period—the weekend surrounding Christmas through the weekend following January 1.
Smashing Holiday Traditions: Common Holiday Traffic Risks and Consequences
According to AAA, over 250 Americans die each year during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and countless others are injured due to reckless holiday driving habits. These dangerous driving traditions include the following:
- Driving while distracted. Distractions can come from anywhere or anything. Whether it be a holiday text to a co-worker, a quick look at a Christmas wish list to make sure you have everything, or a momentary lapse of holding onto the wheel as you put gives on, limiting your control over your vehicle can and does have disastrous effects—especially when you’re dealing with holiday traffic and wet or icy roads.
- Driving under pressure. Along with the fun and merriment of the holidays comes enormous pressure and anxiety. Do you have everything you need? Did you get your son the right action figure? Will you get to your loved ones on time? Are you going to be able to stand Uncle John’s manger jokes for the umpteenth time? These are all worries that are chaotically floating around in your brain, as you travel. As a result, fixating on your worries can cause you to drive erratically and dangerously.
- Driving tired. Let’s face it, during the holiday season you lose more sleep than is good for you. Planning parties, making cookies, buying and wrapping presents…it’s an endless parade of holiday to-dos which ultimately lead to unplanned holiday to-doze. When your brain doesn’t get enough sleep or cognitive function goes right out the window making you susceptible to loss in concentration, blurred vision, diminished reflexes, and a poor ability to control your body—let alone a car.
- Driving under the influence. We all know that drinking and driving don’t mix. However, during celebratory holidays this knowledge tends to get lost in a sea of eggnog and champagne. As a result nearly 40 percent of traffic deaths over Christmas and New Year’s are caused by drunk drivers. An average of 27 people die each day during the latter part of December. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’ s Fatality Analysis Reporting System estimates that 38% of traffic deaths that occur on the days leading up to Christmas and 41% of daily deaths surrounding New Year are DUI-related.
For more information on holiday driving risks feel free to browse our other online articles—and please remember to take care and don’t overdue the holiday cheer (or pressure) this holiday season, for both your sake as well as that of your fellow travelers.