The holidays are a time for fun and festivities, with many gathering to celebrate with friends and family. But for too many, the holidays end in serious injury or death because of an auto accident. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year are three of the top five times of the year when traffic fatalities rise, for the simple reason that so many of us take to the road for long-distance travel.
Tens of Millions of Travelers This Holiday Season
The American Automobile Association (AAA) expects more than 55 million travelers to be moving about for the kickoff of the holiday season, most traveling by vehicle. Lower gas prices and more disposable income are inspiring more people to take time off to visit family and friends for the holidays. AAA Colorado predicts that some holiday travel records will be broken in the Centennial State this year as close to a million Coloradoans are expected to travel far from home, a 2.9 increase from 2018. Most will be driving.
Although a break from work or school is a great thing, in some cases the journey will involve crashes that result in severe injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there will be 454 fatalities from vehicular accidents during Thanksgiving the Thanksgiving holiday and 799 such deaths from Christmas to New Year’s Day.
NHTSA reports that last year, there were more than 1,500 traffic fatalities during the same periods. Nearly 100 of those crashes occurred here in Colorado. Bad weather is one major cause of accidents, but many are also due to bad driving habits.
Thousand Killed by Drivers’ Unsafe Behavior
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2017, nearly 170,000 people die due to accidental injuries, and motor vehicle deaths accounted for 40,231 of those deaths. The main cause of those accidents and deaths was driver behavior, including failure to use seat belts, driving under the influence, speeding, and distracted driving.
Colorado is stepping up law enforcement during the holidays and other times of the year when more people than average hit the road. Police say nearly 60 people are arrested for impaired driving every day in the state. These statistics have motivated enforcement programs to get impaired drivers off the road. As a result of such enforcement, 2,999 drivers were arrested over the summer.
Moral: be safe. Leave the distractions and festivities for your destination. En route, your priority should be getting there safely. That means making sure you and your passengers are buckled in, avoiding all distractions so that your eyes remain on the road and other drivers, and never drinking and driving. Even one drink can cause impairment.