The end-of-the-year holidays should be full of happiness, friends, and family. Unfortunately, the days leading up to these holidays are often filled with stress and chaos—making this period one of the most dangerous times of year on U.S. roads.
According to the National Safety Council, the three days surrounding Christmas typically see an average of 343 traffic fatalities each year, while an average of 373 people are killed over the three-day New Year holiday. Our car accident attorneys sincerely want you to stay as safe as possible before and after your celebrations, so we have identified the most common causes of these crashes.
Why Car Accidents Are More Likely Over the Winter Holidays
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that the vast majority of these crashes are preventable. Up to 94 percent of traffic accidents are caused by avoidable human errors, which are more likely to happen over the holidays due to:
- Increased traffic. People are more likely to be in cars often and for long periods of time during the holidays, and more people on the roads means more opportunities for collisions. In the run-up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, more people are out holiday shopping, visiting friends and family, and running errands—often until after the sun goes down.
- Stress. Stressed-out drivers may run through stop signs or red lights, take unnecessary risks to get to a store before it closes, or be too busy searching for a parking space to scan for pedestrians.
- Deliveries. Trucks, vans, postal vehicles, and even passenger cars flood the roads with gifts and deliveries for the holidays. The increase in online shopping has caused a demand for delivery drivers, some of whom may not have valid commercial licenses or be unfamiliar with the roads in cities and towns that are new to them.
- Distractions. Drivers have a lot on their minds during the holiday season. They may be thinking more about visiting in-laws, dinner menus, or getting last-minute gifts than on the road ahead—or they may be focusing their attention on talking or texting on their cellphones.
- School holidays. Parents driving with children who are out of school face a higher degree of distraction, while the roads have a higher concentration of teenage drivers during the winter break
- Wintry conditions. Snow, ice, rain, slush, high winds, and other dangerous road conditions make it harder to travel safely in winter. When slippery roads cause a crash, the local government or highway maintenance company can be held liable for failure to keep the roadways clear.
- Parties. Between old friends coming back in town to your coworkers celebrating the end of the year, impaired driving increases significantly in the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day. Drivers may not realize they’re unfit to get behind the wheel after drinking, using illegal drugs, or taking prescription medications that can affect their concentration and reaction times.
- Shorter days. People traveling long distances or running errands after work are especially likely to be involved in a severe accident, as the crash death rate is three times higher during the night than during daylight hours.
- Fatigue. Whether you’re picking up overtime hours or driving to your relative’s house for dinner, drowsy driving is especially likely over the holidays. Lack of sleep can impair driving as much as alcohol, dulling the senses and making it less likely that you can react in time to avoid a crash.
If you have been injured in a car crash, you should know that the odds of getting fair compensation are stacked against you. Victims often have to fight with insurance companies to get paid for their medical bills, property damage, lost income, and other injury costs—all at a time when they should be resting and recovering.
Our law firm offers free, no-obligation consultations with a proven personal injury attorney to all victims of serious injuries across Tennessee. To learn more about getting compensation after a car wreck, simply fill out our quick contact form or read through our Free Guide to Getting Your Doctor Bills Paid After a Car Crash.