What Are Some Safety Tips for Driving During the Holidays?
During the holidays, many people are traveling to visit family and friends and/or to attend holiday parties. More and more cars, motorcyclists, and trucks are on the road, and the increased traffic and number of vehicles aren’t the only danger drivers have to look out for.
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that most vehicle accident fatalities increase during the holiday season. The reason for this increase, according to the NHTSA, is the increase in alcohol consumption, longer travel times, and speeding.
In our previous blog, “5 Causes of Holiday Trucking Accidents,” we discussed the common causes of holiday trucking accidents in further detail. Below, we will focus our discussion on driving safety tips that help drivers stay safe this holiday season.
Don’t Drive Under the Influence
Driving under the influence is not only illegal but risks lives. If you plan to drink at a work function or holiday party, ask one of your friends to act as a designated driver or use a rideshare service. You should also avoid getting into a car with a driver you know is drunk.
If you plan to host a holiday party, don’t be afraid to take a guest’s keys if you feel cannot drive safely. Also, consider offering to allow guests to stay the night if they are unfit to drive.
As you travel to and from holiday events, also be mindful of vehicles that seem to be reckless or swerving. Keep your distance from the vehicle and engage in defensive driving practices.
Minimize Distractions, Especially Cellphone Use
While driving this holiday season, avoid distractions as they can cause accidents. Texting and driving is a well-known form of distracted driving, but drivers can be distracted by any activity that divides their attention between driving and another task. Activities that can divide your attention include (but are not limited to): eating, grooming, playing road trip games, fiddling with your playlist or radio, or talking with passengers.
Keep a Good Distance Between Your Car & Others
Typically, it is recommended that you leave a three-second gap (or the length of a car) between you and the car in front of you. This gap ensures that you have enough space to come to a stop when needed. A safe following distance also allows you time to react if the cars in front of you are involved in an accident or there is a piece of debris in the road.
Map Your Route
While you may rely on Google or Apple Maps to help you navigate, you should still review the route the program wants you to travel. Take note of whether you have traveled the route before and what you may encounter on the route. If you are traveling to Tennessee, for instance, and driving through Gatlinburg, you will be driving through the mountains, and you should prepare for driving through mountains and hills.
Check the Weather
Road trips can be fun, but they can also be dangerous if there is inclement weather. During the holidays, weather, such as heavy rain, snow, and sleet, can contribute to accidents. Be sure to check the weather along your entire route, and if you do run into some bad weather, find somewhere safe to pull over if you do not feel comfortable.
Have an Emergency Plan
If you get a flat tire, feel sick, or have any type of emergency while driving, are you prepared to handle it? Hopefully, your answer is yes, and you have a plan to handle emergencies. It can be a great idea to keep an emergency bag with snacks, road flares, and other tools to handle emergencies, especially if you plan to travel a long distance during the holidays.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Seatbelts save lives. As you travel, be sure to not only buckle up yourself but also ensure other passengers wear their seatbelts as well. While this won’t necessarily protect you from an accident, it can help to increase your chances of survival if involved in an accident.
Make Sure Your Car Is Ready for the Trip
Mechanical issues with your vehicle can contribute to or cause an accident. Before getting on the road, check your tires, wiper fluid, and other aspects of your car to ensure your vehicle is safe to take out on the road.
Speeding is a leading cause of accidents and can make an accident more severe. When a driver speeds, they reduce their reaction time and increase their likelihood of being involved in a crash. According to data from the National Safety Council, in 2020, speeding was a factor in 29% of traffic fatalities that led to the death of 11,258 people (i.e. about 30 per day).
Talk to Teen Drivers About Driving Safety
Teen drivers, because of their inexperience and other factors, are often at risk of being involved in fatal holiday accidents. As they are on a break from school, more teen drivers may be on the road, going to parties or work or just hanging out.
Black Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, is actually a very common day for binge drinking, and many teens, especially college students, may participate in underage and/or binge drinking. To help safeguard teen drivers, impress upon them how dangerous drinking and driving is and remind them that they can call you or an Uber or a family friend for a ride.
You should also remind them of other safe driving practices, such as no texting and driving, no speeding, etc. If you need help discussing driving safety with your teen, you can use this post or the CDC “Teen Driver and Passenger Safety” resource guide to guide your conversation.
If you are involved in a negligence-based motor vehicle accident this holiday season, McHargue & Jones, LLC is here and equipped to help you fight for your right to fair compensation. Call (312) 487-2461 or reach out online today to schedule a case consultation and discuss your case with a member of our team.