Holiday Traffic Accidents, Statistics and Tips
It’s that time of year again—you just punched out of work and are ready to take that holiday road trip you’ve been planning for the last few months. Or maybe you’ll be getting a late start on your holiday shopping next week and anticipate racing around town last minute. The holidays are meant to be a joyful and relaxing time; but Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays typically are accompanied by a staggering toll on the nation’s highways. The National Safety Council estimates more than 400 people may lose their lives and another 48,500 may be seriously injured in car crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. While the numbers vary from year to year, an average of 343 people die in traffic deaths each year during the three-day Christmas holiday period. Even more die over the three-day New Year holiday, according to the National Safety Council.
Below is a chart displaying the high volume of traffic accidents during major holidays:
Correctable mistakes are often behind the toll, safety experts say. What you do or don’t do may save your life and those of your loved ones and others, because the critical cause of 94 percent of traffic crashes is human factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Here are several steps you can take to decrease your risk of becoming a holiday statistic:
Be sure to service your car before taking off for holiday driving. Inspect tires for wear and tear. Check the tread by doing the quarter test. (Insert a quarter upside down into the tread; if the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time for new tires.) Look also for any bulges in the tires. Your mechanic may also look at your brake pads to be sure they don’t need to be replaced.
Avoid Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving is a recipe for disaster. As many as one in five fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Get a good night’s sleep before setting out. If possible, have an alert adult passenger in the car at all times to look out for road hazards. During a longer trip, plan to stop every 100 miles or two hours for a break, experts advise. It can be brief — enjoying the view at a rest stop or taking a quick coffee or restroom break. Skip heavy meals before you set out; all those carbs and fat can make you doze off.
Beware the “Ds” of Dangerous Driving
In addition to drowsy driving, drinking, drugs and distraction all increase the chance of an accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one person dies in an alcohol-related accident every 51 minutes in the U.S.
Drugs play a major role in highway accidents, too. According to a recent NHTSA survey, about 22 percent of drivers involved in accidents tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Prescription drugs most often found include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (OxyContin) and Diazepam (Valium).
Distracted driving is also hazardous, and cell-phone use may top the list of causes. An estimated one in four car crashes involves the use of a cell phone, the National Safety Council experts say. Getting a phone mount is recommended if you are using your GPS.
Watch Your Speed
Excess speed is a factor in about 70 percent of accidents involving fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Adjusting your speed for hazardous road conditions is also critical.
Contact Quintana Law
We hope everyone will take pause before getting on the road this holiday season. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday rush, but please be safe when you’re on the road over the next few weeks. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Quintana Law for a FREE consultation at (602) 418-0733. We can help.