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The Holiday Spike in Automobile Accidents

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Greetland Winter Driving

Many people believe that more car accidents occur during the holiday season, and safety data seems to bear this theory out.

According to the website Medical Xpress, the days just before Christmas can be the most dangerous ones to be on the roadway. This may be due at least in part to the fact that motorists are rushing around attending parties and doing  last-minute shopping. Other reasons for the spike in automobile crashes during the holiday season include:

Drunk Driving

For many, holiday celebrations include overindulgence in alcohol. Nearly half of all traffic fatalities on New Year’s Day are alcohol-related, the highest number of any holiday, and according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, the number of traffic fatalities increases substantially from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve each year. To make matters worse, the holidays are also a time when those who rarely drink alcohol decide to partake and then get behind the wheel.

According to a FindLaw.com report, the Colorado State Patrol will be working in cooperation with local law enforcement to conduct DUI patrols throughout the state during the 2013 holiday season, utilizing safety measures such as DUI checkpoints and assigning additional officers to problem areas.

More Traffic

People naturally travel more during the holidays so that they can spend time with relatives and friends, crowding the roads and creating more obstacles for drivers to avoid. Thanksgiving ranks as the most fatal driving day, since it is also the most traveled holiday of the year, and nearly 90 percent of those visiting friends and relatives do so by car. Those making these long-distance treks are often following a route  they may not be familiar with, increasing the chance of a collision. Interestingly, traveling on Christmas Day is considered comparatively safe. That may be because traffic is rather light that day since stores are closed and most travelers have arrived at their destinations, last-minute gifts in tow.

Winter Driving Conditions

The Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall at the peak time for winter weather conditions, when icy and snowy roads dramatically increase the likelihood of car crashes, particularly in states like Colorado. If you must drive in snowy and icy conditions:

  • Reduce your speed and give yourself plenty of room to stop.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Steer in the direction you want your front wheels to go.
  • Turn on your headlights so that other motorists can see you.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them, but if you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure.
  • Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

Image by CraigMoulding.

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