The winter holidays evoke happiness and cheer from being surrounded by friends and family. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also the time when safety organizations see an increase in car accidents, mainly due to alcohol abuse.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one in four fatal car accidents in the month of December are caused by drunk drivers, and an average of 300 drivers are killed by intoxicated drivers between December 25 and January 1.
Why Driving During the Winter Holidays Is Dangerous
Driving during Christmas and New Year’s Day is much more dangerous for the following reasons: 1) alcohol consumption is higher, 2) people are in a rush, 3) traffic is more congested, and 4) the weather is typically less conducive for driving.
- Alcohol Consumption: When alcohol is the main focus for gathering during the winter holidays, people tend to go overboard. They become irresponsible and believe they are sober enough to drive, therefore putting others on the road at risk.
- Busy & Hasty People: When people are rushed, they oftentimes make poor decisions or lack proper judgment. There doesn’t ever seem to be enough time to get everything done during the holidays; therefore, people are typically running behind.
- Traffic Congestion: With the increase in parties, errands, and deadlines, the amount of drivers on the road drastically increases during the holidays. The stop-and-go traffic leads to more accidents.
- Poor Weather: Depending on where you are located, road conditions are often compromised due to poor weather. Drivers are at the mercy of the snow, sleet, or ice and don’t always consider the ramifications of negligent driving.
How to Stay Safe on the Road During the Holidays
There are several precautions you can take as a driver to increase your chances of staying safe on the road during the holidays:
- Give yourself enough time: It’s a good rule of thumb to leave 30 minutes earlier than usual if you have a party to attend. Increase that time to 45 minutes or an hour to ensure that you won’t need to rush in case something unexpected occurs. Having a good buffer helps you avoid feeling rushed.
- Recruit a designated driver: If you plan on consuming alcohol at any time during the winter holidays, recruit a designated driver or have a ride on standby, like Uber or a taxi, so you and other drivers on the road get home safely. Perhaps even consider being the designated driver for someone else.
- Plan your route ahead of time: If you have several errands you need to run before heading to a holiday party, take some time before you leave to plan out your route. Consider which places you need to go to first and what roads you will take to get there. Be intentional about your travels.