Few events are more devastating than getting into a serious car accident. In a matter of seconds, a person’s life can change through no fault of their own. And when this happens around the holidays, it can be especially painful for victims and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, crash rates often increase around holidays. Knowing why this happens and what you can do to stay safe can help you protect yourself and reduce your risk of catastrophic injuries.
Four causes of holiday crashes
Common causes of accidents this time of year include:
- Alcohol use: Holidays and drinking often go hand-in-hand, making alcohol-related crashes more prevalent. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, alcohol is the cause of more than one-quarter of all accidents between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
- Drowsiness: People driving home after working late or on a long road trip can be especially susceptible to drowsiness behind the wheel. When people are tired and sleep-deprived, they can be as impaired as a drunk driver.
- Reckless driving: Holidays can be stressful, and everyone seems to be in a hurry. These circumstances can motivate drivers to take unnecessary risks behind the wheel. They speed and follow others too closely, increasing the potential for a crash.
- Distracted driving: Everything from family strain and cellphones to rowdy passengers and eating can cause a driver to be distracted. When people aren’t paying attention, they cannot drive safely.
Whenever you get in your car around the holidays, consider the following ways to protect yourself and reduce the potential for a devastating accident.
- Wear your seat belt. Failing to buckle up can turn an injury-causing crash into a fatal one.
- Pay attention. Put your own distractions away so that you are a safer driver and can watch out for others who are not taking the same precautions.
- Adjust your driving schedule. Avoid driving late at night, in bad weather or during periods of especially high traffic levels.
- Get a tune-up. Your car is your best defense in avoiding a crash and surviving one that does occur. Make sure your brakes and lights work; check your tires; address any warning lights that may be on.
These tips can help you avoid severe accidents and the tragic toll they take on everyone affected by them.