Holidays are a time for rest and relaxation, right? We all know that is not always the case, and the Christmas holiday season is usually a time of stress and last minute shopping. Americans are also traveling at increased rates across the country, congesting our roads and highways. The odds of getting into a traffic accident significantly increase during periods in which there are more cars on the road. The odds are stacked further against drivers during the Christmas holiday because driving conditions are at their worst during winter. When we take into account the fact that individuals are more likely to be driving drunk during a holiday, the situation begins to look grim.
Travel Patterns – About 91% of holiday travel is made by personal vehicle, and when considering the number of people who travel for the holidays, we can better understand why there is so much congestion on our highways during these times. The Christmas holiday season represents the second busiest long distance travel period of the year, with Thanksgiving taking the top spot. Long distance trips are defined as trips over 50 miles one way, and during the Christmas holiday, these trips increase by 23%. Americans are also more likely to travel farther to get to their destination for Christmas, with the average round trip families make being 276 miles.
Driving While Fatigued – We’ve all made those marathon trips to visit family and friends around the holidays – up at 5am, then driving 6 hours for an early dinner and back on the road again to get home. But do we think about what that kind of trip does to our chances of getting in an accident? We already have a greater chance of getting into an accident during the Holidays because there are significantly more vehicles on the road, and when you take into account increased levels of driver fatigue, we should all be worried. It is estimated that drivers are over 25% more likely to be driving while fatigued during the Christmas holiday.
Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) – Surprisingly, the statistics show that drinking and driving related fatalities and arrests on Christmas Day do not show a statistically significant increase when compared to the rest of the year’s average. The statistics skew slightly when the holiday falls on a weekend, but it still shows little significance. Christmas Eve is the day during the Christmas holiday season that we see an increase in DUI related activity. Statistics show that DUI-related traffic stops increase an average of 33% on Christmas eve, and DUI related deaths follow a similar trend.
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness, and we should all do our best to make sure that is the case. We can all help reduce the increase in traffic-related injuries around the holidays if we show a heightened awareness of the activities that cause the increase. Making sure we are prepared, adequately rested, and staying vigilant against drunk driving during our road trips will make the holidays a safer time of year for everyone. The attorneys at this law firm wish you all a happy holiday season and remind everyone to stay safe and have fun while celebrating!