Why Do Car Crashes Increase Around the Holidays?
The holidays should be a time of joy, and they usually are. Spending time with family and friends, eating some amazing food, and catching ballgames are all time-honored traditions. But the reality is that automobile accidents increase around the holidays and it has little to do with excessive speed to flee the in-laws or Great Aunt Edna’s perfected “holiday pour” when she serves up the eggnog.
Reasons for the Increase in Accidents
More accidents happen during the holiday season than in the rest of the year. There are several reasons for this.
More Cars on the Road
Increased traffic is one of the main reasons there are more car accidents around the holidays. Many people are traveling to see their loved ones or are using the time off to go on vacation, which automatically puts more traffic on the roads. More traffic leads to more accidents, more congestion, and longer travel time.
Failure to Designate a Sober Driver
There are far more parties happening around the holidays. Most people’s social lives are never more active than during the holidays. Everyone celebrates with work functions and parties with friends and family. Unfortunately, not everyone is responsible with their alcohol intake.
Leaving a gathering after drinking too much can lead to car accidents. This is yet another reason that accidents are more prevalent around holidays. Driving under the influence can have both short and long-term legal ramifications, so it’s important to always have a plan to get home safely at the end of the night.
Burning the Candle at Both Ends
The holidays can be an exciting time, but they can also be equally exhausting. Waking up early for work or moving the Elf on the Shelf, staying up late to attend all of the functions, wrapping all the gifts, and baking can lead to fatigue.
Studies have shown that once a person has been awake for 20 hours, their drowsy driving skills are impaired on an equal level as someone with a 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC), which is the current legal limit in most states. A person who has not slept in 24 hours has an equivalent impairment to a BAC level of 0.1%.
Not getting enough sleep leads to drivers who are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel, have delayed reflexes, and not be equipped to make split-second decisions when necessary.
Distracted Drivers Cause Accidents
Holidays are a chaotic time of year. So much going on can cause drivers to be distracted. From trying to follow the directions to a party or running out to get the missing ingredients for the dish they are making for their neighborhood holiday cookie exchange, holiday revelers are busy.
Telephone use while driving becomes a problem as people have a tendency to multitask in the name of saving time. Taking pictures, sending texts, using GPS, and shopping online can lead to accidents because drivers split their focus between driving and all of these other things. Distracted driving leads to accidents.
A White Christmas May Lead to a Collision
In some parts of the country, a white Christmas is just a song the radio plays around the holidays, but the icy stuff is a reality for other parts of the country. Layers of snow, ice, sleet, and freezing rain can wreak havoc on traffic. But, determined drivers are reluctant to stay at home when the holidays are at hand.
With last-minute gifts, family to see, and parties to attend, all in adverse weather conditions, there is a good chance that drivers will have a difficult time maintaining control of their vehicles. This leads to accidents around the holidays.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It is the most wonderful time of the year unless you have road rage.
Drivers who are agitated and in a hurry to check everything off their to-do lists can be impatient. This impatience leads to aggression, which leads to accidents.
Drivers experiencing road rage take unnecessary risks that endanger themselves and everyone else on the road. Road rage flare-ups around the holidays, with the increase in people on the road, can have a tragic outcome.
Novice Drivers in Dangerous Conditions
Drivers who are visiting icy places during the holidays may have limited experience driving in such conditions. They have not had the practice and do not have the skills to drive safely in icy, hazardous conditions. A lack of experience, often driving in unfamiliar areas that are crowded to bursting, is a recipe for disaster.
A Perfect Storm
The icy roads are packed with drivers during the holidays. Some of them have been drinking, some of them are exhausted, others are agitated and taking risks, some are distracted and on their phones, and everyone is busy.
Chaotic energy is coming from all directions, which can lead to a perfect storm of poor road conditions. These conditions lead to an uptick in the number of car accidents that happen around the holidays.
Tips for Staying Safe During the Holidays
While staying home is not an option for most people, you are out of harm’s way when you can stay indoors. But, for those who have to be on the road around the holidays, here are a few helpful tips for staying safe:
- Get enough rest. It’s difficult this time of year, but if you are rested, you will have a happier, safer holiday.
- Designate a driver. This one is pretty obvious if you are going to be drinking, designate a sober driver or plan on using a rideshare service, or having someone pick you up.
- Take a few deep breaths. It is understandable that things feel chaotic and rushed, but road rage can delay the time it takes you to get where you are going, especially if it ends in an accident.
- Put the phone down. Turn on the radio, talk to the person in the car with you, or just take the time to enjoy the quiet and focus on your drive.
- Avoid driving in bad weather, especially if you lack experience driving in those conditions. Use it as an excuse to stay home and enjoy a hot chocolate.
Take Care to Have a Happy Holiday
You cannot control what other drivers will do, but you can control yourself and your choices. Following the above tips increases your chances of enjoying a safe and happy holiday season.