Posted by: Stephen Gaubert on Dec 20, 2017

Contributed by The Law Office of Stephen C. Gaubert


What Makes the Holiday Season a Dangerous Time to Drive?

There are many reasons why the upcoming holiday season becomes a dangerous time to get behind the wheel of an automobile, no matter how urgently you need to do so:

  • More cars on the road – You’re not the only person in need of holiday gift shopping and Thanksgiving preparations. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, tens of millions of travelers will take to the roads to do many of the things you need to do. This heavy uptick in traffic makes it much more hazardous to drive.
  • Drivers under the influence – Alcohol tends to be a common denominator at plenty of holiday parties. While it’s perfectly okay for adults to partake in alcohol consumption, it’s not okay to get behind the wheel afterwards. There are more DUIs and alcohol-related fatalities during the holidays than any other time of year, which makes the already crowded roadways particularly dangerous.
  • Stress, anxiety and fatigue – The holiday season presents several factors that can bring additional stress and fatigue to an already hectic time, such as shopping deadlines, financial issues or a lack of sleep posed from long road trips to visit family and friends. These issues are not only distracting, they can cause erratic driving as well.
  • Rain, hail, and ice on the roads – Although Louisiana drivers don’t have to worry about plowing through several inches of snow in the winter, heavy rain and hail can fog windshields and distort vision. It’s possible for ice to form on roads in the right conditions – especially at night – causing roads to be extra slick.
  • Poorly maintained vehicles – Not all drivers maintain their vehicles in tip-top shape year round. The influx of automobiles on the road during this time of year means more vehicles that can have breakdowns or blown tires, which may cause an accident if you’re not careful.

Safe Driving Tips During the Holiday Season

You can’t magically decrease the amount of holiday traffic on the road, control the weather or prevent other drivers from drinking and driving. However, there are some important precautions you can take that can greatly lessen the risk of being involved in a driving incident during this time of year:

  • Don’t drive at peak traffic hours – If you can help it, try to only drive at times when traffic is supposed to be lighter. For example, Black Friday and Christmas Eve are both incredibly busy times on roadways, especially after the work day has concluded. Try to finish your holiday shopping early to prevent you from driving during these hectic shopping periods and make sure to plan your long road trips during the less-busy times for drivers. Consider leaving earlier or staying later at stores and events to help avoid the worst of the traffic.
  • Always drive defensively – It’s important to always drive with a defensive mindset, especially during the holiday season. Although you can’t control how other drivers will act, you can control how you will react to their driving. Also, it’s important to remember that not all travelers will be locals that know exactly where they need to go. Drivers that aren’t familiar with their surroundings can be prone to making unpredictable driving decisions, so remaining aware of others on the road will help keep you and your loved ones safe.
  • DON’T drink and drive – This should go without being said, but whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of drinking and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. No drive is important enough to risk lives – and being arrested for DUI is a serious offense that carries heavy legal consequences. In the event that you’ve been drinking and absolutely need to leave the event, innovative driving services (such as Lyft and Uber) make it incredibly convenient for you to quickly find a ride.
  • Remain calm behind the wheel – Make sure that you are well-rested before getting on the road and do your best to not let any stress affect your driving. There’s not much that can be done about the additional holiday traffic, so don’t let stress cause you to making irresponsible driving decisions.
  • Keep an eye on the weather conditions – Get weather reports in advance and plan your travels accordingly. If possible, avoid driving in poor weather that can affect the road conditions – it’ll definitely be worth the extra effort and attention.
  • Vehicle maintenance – Make sure to maintain your vehicle and tires on a regular basis. Worn tires can cause skidding, especially on wet, icy roads. Breakdowns and failing brakes can also cause dangerous situations for yourself or other drivers. A properly maintained vehicle will help get you to your destination safely, so you can focus on enjoying the holidays with friends and family.

The number of holiday automobile accidents that occur every year is staggering, so make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe on the roads this holiday season. While you can’t control everything that will happen while on the road, these tips will help prepare you as best as possible. In the event that you’re involved in a car accident, contact our office so that we can help you get back on your feet. Safe travels and happy holidays!

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