Avoid a Holiday Traffic Accident in 2020
Holiday traveling increases the number of people on U.S. roadways, which results in more and more holiday traffic accidents each year. It’s essential to watch out for various hazards, like poor weather conditions and reckless drivers. These can put you at a greater risk of being involved in a collision.
Following these seven tips can help you travel safely during the holidays moving forward:
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
Being prepared for travel can go a long way in ensuring your safety on the road. Here are some tips to get ready for your long drive:
- Ensure your vehicle has a recent oil and filter change. This is also a good time to have a mechanic do a comprehensive inspection to ensure no other repairs are needed. Doing so will help prevent a mechanical breakdown while you’re on the road, which can be unsafe for you and other drivers.
- Plan your trip out before you leave. Knowing your route and rest stops in advance will keep you focused on the road and less likely to make impulsive driving decisions.
- Only bring the luggage that you really need. You’ll want a clear view out your rear window, so it is safest to pack strategically for your visit.
2. Leave Early for Your Trip
Roads will be busiest during peak traffic hours. Depending on your city, traffic is usually heaviest from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Not only will there be holiday drivers on the highway, but you’ll also encounter people who are making their regular work commute. Combined, these can create very busy roadways for travelers. Leaving early (or late!) for your trip can help you avoid the crowd.
3. Keep an Eye on Weather Conditions
Inclement weather like rain, ice, and hail can decrease visibility and make the roads more slippery, resulting in more accidents. Get weather reports in advance and, if possible, plan your trip for when conditions are better. If you do find yourself stuck on the road during a sudden rain or hailstorm, find a safe place to pull over and wait it out.
4. Minimize Distractions
Distracted driving is a top contributor to auto accident fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHSTA) reports that distracted driving caused the deaths of 3,166 people in just 2017. When driving this holiday season, keep these tips in mind to minimize distractions:
- Put away cell phones and other electronic devices.
- Don’t eat or drink while driving.
- Have your passenger in charge of the GPS, radio, or entertainment system.
- Avoid staring at other accidents or anything else away from the road.
It’s also important to avoid driver fatigue during long trips. If you find yourself zoning out on the road, find a safe place to pull over. Stretch your legs, get something to eat or drink, and return to the vehicle when you feel more alert and able to focus on the drive ahead.
5. Drive Defensively
A defensive driver will constantly be aware of their surroundings, use safe driving practices at all times, and be able to recognize and address hazards in a variety of road conditions. There will be a lot of other holiday drivers out there who may not be as well prepared as you, so you should give them plenty of room to make any sudden stops or impulsive lane changes. Make sure to stay within the speed limit and follow all other traffic laws. Keep an eye out for any lane closures or construction work that could impact the behavior of other drivers.
6. Avoid Drinking and Driving
While you might decide to imbibe during your holiday festivities, you don’t want to make the mistake of getting behind the wheel immediately afterward. Even one drink can impair your judgement and put lives at risk, so it’s safest to have someone else drive or wait until you’re sober to get back out on the road.
7. Pack an Emergency Kit
With any holiday trip, you should equip your vehicle with an emergency kit. Include supplies like:
- First-aid kit
- Road flares
- Water and non-perishable food
Before you leave, also make sure to fully charge your cell phone in case you need it for an emergency call. It’s also a good idea to have a spare tire, jack, and jumper cables available.
Common Causes of Holiday Travel Accidents
AAA estimates that 115.6 million Americans will be traveling this season—which is the highest number on record. It’s more important than ever to use safe driving practices to reduce your risk of becoming involved in a wreck. Here are some of the main causes of auto accidents during the holidays:
- Congested traffic: More drivers on the road simply results in more accidents occurring. If you can, it’s a good idea to wait out the traffic before leaving for your trip.
- Bad weather conditions: The winter can bring inclement weather that can impact road conditions and driver performance. Try to avoid driving when the weather is so poor that you can’t maintain visibility.
- Road rage: As motorists try to navigate the various road conditions, they may become stressed and frustrated. Remember to remain calm during any interactions with a raging driver.
- Driving under the influence: The season will increase the number of people taking part in holiday festivities, and some will decide to take the chance and drive impaired. Drunk drivers are often reckless and make poor decisions on the road. If you notice an erratic driver, switch lanes or pull over.
Bakersfield Auto Accident Attorney
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we understand how important it is to drive safely over the holidays, but some accidents are just unavoidable, even for the safest drivers. If you have been injured in a holiday traffic accident, contact us soon as possible to discuss your claim with an experienced attorney during a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re ready to help you pursue the compensation you deserve.