Posted on December 23rd, 2020 by Zane Cagle
Even in the midst of this pandemic, people are excited about Christmas and the coming of a new year. Driving conditions can change quickly in the Midwest due to weather. We usually think of drunk driving as the most dangerous condition on the road, but we also see an increase in stress can result in more aggressive driving, excessive speeds, and inattentive driving
What Makes Holiday Driving so Dangerous?
The holiday period usually means an increase in traffic. Considering the complications of the pandemic; stress levels are at an all-time high. More people are likely to take to the roadways rather than fly as the CDC has been warning about the dangers of flying and the increased spread of the virus. While we saw dramatic decreases in traffic early in the pandemic, risky driving behaviors become more frequent and the number of serious car crashes rose. Crash numbers continue to be too high considering there is still far less traffic. Thus, we can expect that the roadways over the holidays will be busier and possibly less safe.
The holidays usually involve more alcohol. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that more than 750 fatalities occur in December due to drunk driving. The holiday season includes more alcohol consumption and can result in more impaired drivers. Yes, the normal holiday congregation parties have been greatly reduced due to the pandemic, but alcohol sales across the country have soared. While you may not have your annual company holiday party, small gatherings still tempt drivers to get behind the wheel while impaired.
The combination of increased traffic on the roadway increased stress and anxiety, and the increased likelihood of impaired driving makes the roadways less safe during the holidays.
How to Stay Safe on the Road this Holiday Season
The most experienced and careful drivers are susceptible to many risks of the road and auto accidents. Weather and traffic can create havoc to the best plans and other drivers can pose serious risks if they make errors or drive impaired. PLANNING is still the best safety insurance that you can bring to the roadway.
Plan your trip to address major risk factors is still the best way to protect yourself and your family. Know the risks and follow these tips to improve your safety:
You must remember that not all drivers will be operating with absolute care that you may be exercising. Always remember that other drivers may be stressed or impaired so your alertness will be key. Pause for an extra beat at traffic lights and stop signs and keep a lookout for other drivers. Resist the temptation to ‘make a light’. Do not get in a hurry to turn into a store or make a left—assume other drivers will behave their worst.
Wherever you are traveling, leave early and allow extra time. When you are in a hurry, you can make a driving error out of stress or impatience. Even if you are traveling a short distance, allow plenty of time. Traffic and inclement weather can impact your itinerary so allow plenty of time.
Alcohol is often a part of celebrations even if it is not a formal event. Make certain that you are not driving impaired. Again, planning is key. While many restaurants and bars are reduced in their capacity of service, to-go cocktails have increased as well as online sales of alcohol. According to Neilson’s market study, total alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants have surged 24% during the pandemic. In all probability, alcohol sales will only increase over the holidays. While there is a litany of issues that increased use of alcohol on people may complicate, the fact remains that there will be many consuming alcohol over the holidays, thus you must plan accordingly. Drunk driving car crashes are truly horrific in that they are completely preventable. Climbing behind the wheel after you have been drinking is the definition of negligence.
Do not attempt to drive anywhere if you have had an alcoholic beverage. You can easily plan that law enforcement will be carefully patrolling looking for impaired drivers. More importantly, do not drive impaired so that you are not endangering yourself or others. We will absolutely be celebrating the holidays with merriment at our houses and we will not be climbing behind the wheel. If you are going to be consuming alcohol, make a plan in advance for safe transportation home or make alternative arrangements. MAKE THE PLAN BEFORE YOU DRINK and we in general, make the worst decisions after we begin drinking.
Allow extra distance from other cars and let other drivers merge where appropriate to reduce the risk of an accident.
PLAN FOR WEATHER–BLACK ICE
Winter weather can be unpredictable in the Midwest. It can be sunny and 60 degrees one day and snowing and sleet a mere 24 hours later. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Look for black ice that can often form on bridges and roadways. When temperatures are freezing, assume bridges and roadways will be slick and slow down.
DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE
While texting and driving are against the law, it is also extremely dangerous. If you have not experienced another dangerous driver while they were texting behind the wheel, you have been the exception. Texting and driving are some of the most dangerous behaviors and those numbers are actually higher than drunk driving. Avoid all distractions while you are driving especially cell phones. Inattentive driving is the number one cause of car accidents. Inattentiveness includes day-dreaming, eating, drinking, putting on make-up, engaging in distracting conversations with other passengers, and a list of many behaviors that take your attention off of the roadway. Distracted driving usually refers specifically to using your handheld device whether it is texting, emailing, posting to social media, or live-streaming. JUST STOP! There is nothing so interesting that you are doing while driving your car that is so entertaining and informative to others that you need to endanger other people!
SERVICE YOUR CAR
Be sure that your vehicle is road-ready. During these last few months, you may not have put that many miles on your vehicle. Make sure that your car is in good working order including tires. The high number of pedestrian fatalities in the greater St. Louis area needs to serve as a warning to all of us. If your car becomes disabled on the roadway, it is an extremely dangerous situation for you, your passengers, and other drivers.
SAFELY CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY
Safety this year during the holiday has taken on a whole new meaning. Most everyone is planning around managing their risk for exposure to Covid 19. Many family celebrations are being canceled or reimagined in a different way this year. Equal to thinking about virus spread, you must think about road safety if you are traveling. Anytime you get on a roadway, there are risks, and driving during the holidays has increased risks.
We are certainly living in an age of “managed risks” and we are each wanting to ensure our safety and have some sense of control. Spending a little extra time planning your travel will be as important as social distancing, washing your hands, and keeping everyone safe.
Ultimately, make sure that you pay attention, have a plan, do not drive impaired, and be patient.
Car Accidents Can Happen, Know What to Do
While you cannot control other drivers, you can do your part to keep our roads safe. Should you be in an auto accident, you will want to take appropriate action. Having a plan should you be in a crash is a great stress reliever. Many people think if they have a plan for a car accident, then they are in a way jinxing themselves. This could not be further from the truth. Knowing what you should do or having a reaction plan greatly assists you in effectively responding and it manages a terribly anxious time.
Visit Five Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident. Daily, I speak with car accident victims who had never thought how they might react after a car crash even though the statistical odds of being in a crash in your lifetime is high. Those crashes vary from a door ding at the grocery store to a serious multi-vehicle crash at a high rate of speed. Clearly, while no one wishes a serious crash on anyone, you must have a plan or know the steps to follow should you be in a crash.
- Call 911 immediately
- Gather information and witness names
- Seek medical treatment immediately
- Call an attorney.
Our attorneys can be reached seven days a week via our toll-free number 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681. We know that crashes occur seven days a week and we are available to answer questions.