The holiday season is traditionally a time when families across the United States travel. Many families choose to travel by car, and the chances are high that even more families will opt for car travel this Christmas in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunately, car travel has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. On top of that, holidays are statistically more dangerous for drivers than non-holidays due to a range of factors including the higher number of drivers, unfamiliar roads, and lack of attention to driving.
The National Safety Council estimates that over 38,000 drivers will be injured in car accidents and another 340 will die on U.S. roads this Christmas period, which runs from December 24–27.
Christmas Car Accident Fatalities
As the graph above shows, the NSC estimates that between 288 and 395 people will be killed in car accidents over the Christmas holiday period. What the graph doesn’t show is the estimated 32,800–45,100 car crash injuries that will also occur.
Pro Tip: Note that the “holiday period” as calculated by the NSC only extends from 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve (Thursday, Dec. 24) through noon on Sunday, December 27. But many travelers, especially those traveling long-distances, will be on the roads before Christmas Eve. The estimated deaths and injuries may be significantly higher if the time frame were widened even a few days.
Many factors contribute to the uptick in car accident deaths and injuries during the Christmas season:
- Increased drivers and road congestion,
- Inattentive or distracted drivers,
- Not wearing seat belts,
- Driving in unfamiliar areas, and
- Drunk or impaired driving.
Since many holiday celebrations involve alcohol consumption, we see a marked increase in alcohol-related car crash fatalities in these periods. For example, in 2018 (the latest available data), alcohol-related road fatalities accounted for 29% of total car accident deaths. But during the 2018 Christmas period, 37% of fatalities were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.
Make Sure You Get to Grandma’s Safely
Most of the car accident deaths and injuries that will happen over the 2020 Christmas season will be deaths and injuries that didn’t need to happen. Just as the issues listed above increase fatalities, safe driving can decrease the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths that occur too.
Every driver can help make our roads safer, whether you’re a Florida native or a first-time visitor. Here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe on the roads this Christmas holiday period:
- Never Drive Drunk: If you’ve been drinking, do not get behind the wheel. Plan ahead for how you will get home after a celebration. If you notice someone else driving erratically, maintain a safe distance to avoid accidents.
- Check Tires: Worn out tread or low tire pressure can affect your car’s ability to react to emergencies on the road. Especially before a long drive, check your tire pressure, tread depth, and spare tire. Also, try not to overload your vehicle as it can hasten treat wear and cause tire blowouts.
- Buckle Up: Always, always wear a seatbelt. Florida law requires that all drivers, front seat passengers, and any passenger under 18 wear a seat belt. The NSC estimates that seat belts may save 135 lives this Christmas holiday period. But an additional 79 lives could be saved if everyone wears a seat belt.
- Update Emergency Contact Information: ECI is a secure system that allows law enforcement to contact designated family or friends in response to an emergency situation. This is especially important when driving long distances or across state lines.
- Watch Speed Limits: As you drive through different states and on different types of roads, the speed limits may change. Be alert for these changes and adjust your speed accordingly as the speed limits will affect the traffic flow. In Florida, the limit will never be over 70 mph.
Eat, Be Merry, and Call Us
We sincerely hope you follow these tips and have a fun and safe Christmas holiday. However, even if you follow every single safe driving tip, you may still encounter reckless and negligent drivers on the road. A single aggressive, distracted, or drunk driver can put the safety of everyone at risk.
If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident while driving in South Florida, we can help. Get started on your path to a financial recovery by calling our experienced Florida car accident and injury lawyers to guide you through the claims process.
The personal injury lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the form below.