Holidays are a time of year people look forward to. Taking a few days off work to relax, reconnect with family and friends, hearty meals and exciting trips. But the hustle and bustle of the holiday season presents not just opportunities for fun, but also higher risks both in and out of the home. Here are 3 critical statistics to keep in mind over the holiday season.
- In 2017 it is estimated 97 million Americans drove 50 miles or more from home during Dec. 23 through Jan. 1
- Between Christmas and New Years in 2017, there were 716 deaths because of automobile accidents.
- There were 54 million American holiday travelers Thanksgiving 2018.
Around 94 percent of traffic collisions are caused by human factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Below are some of our best recommendations for traveling safely during the holiday season.
First things first: preparation!
Before setting out on your holiday journey, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got everything you need, all in working order. One important part of this process is making sure you’re up-to-date with maintenance on your vehicle. Be sure you’re following advice from your manufacturer (which can be found in your vehicle’s manual or online) on how often to perform preventative maintenance such as changing the oil, rotating the tires, replacing fuel filters, replacing brake pads, etc. These all play an important part in making sure you get to your destination safely. You’ll also want to make sure your car battery is properly charged, connections are snug and secure, and ports are clean and free of any buildup or debris. Lastly, make sure you have the proper tires on your car for whatever conditions you may encounter, and accessories such as chains if you’ll need them as well. Check to make sure there’s adequate tread, and there are no lumps or bulges that shouldn’t be there.
Sometimes incidents are unavoidable, however, so bringing a few extra things along — just in case — can make a big difference at the end of the day. Be sure you have up-to-date copies of your vehicle registration and insurance in an easy-to-access place in the car and that the tags on your license plate are current as well. And lastly, having an emergency roadside kit and at least one spare tire can sometimes be a literal lifesaver. Some common things you might want to include would be a first aid kit, heating packs if traveling through colder areas, flares, and traffic cones.
On the road:
Before and during your journey, make sure you’re familiar with your route and road conditions. There are a variety of places you can get this info, such as the app Waze which provides traffic and road conditions, as well as weather services and your local department of transportation websites.
Always be sure to avoid the four D’s of dangerous driving: drowsiness, drinking, drugs, and distraction. Make sure before your drive that you are well rested, alert, and prepared to react at a moment’s notice to dangers on the road. And never, ever use mobile devices while driving! If possible, have a passenger in the car who can assist with navigation and checking road conditions on mobile devices and act as a second set of eyes on the road to make things safer. Make sure to check any prescription medications you may be taking to ensure they won’t impair your driving ability. And if you are feeling drowsy or unfocused, pull over and take a break or switch drivers. As a general rule, it is good to take a break and/or switch drivers every two hours or 100 miles of travel.
Again, sometimes incidents on the road are unavoidable. In this case, make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt, and that children are placed in a proper car seat for their height and weight.
In the event that you or a loved one does become a victim, you can seek assistance from personal injury attorneys in your local area. Your case can be evaluated to see if careless or reckless actions caused the incident, and whether or not you can receive compensation.