Driving during the winter is already dangerous enough. Fewer hours of daylight, limited visibility, black ice, and snow are the common environmental factors that can significantly increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash. That likelihood increases when negligent driving behavior is thrown into the mix.
According to EHS Today, there are four roadway hazards drivers will likely face this holiday season:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Pressured driving
- Fatigued driving
Drivers will likely use cellphones more often behind the wheel
Holiday-related distracted driving often includes "driving while using cell phones for both talking and texting holiday messages to friends, coworkers and family,” according to driver safety expert Doug Horn, founder of "Drive by Example."
“It also includes driving while checking out store hours and locations using a smartphone to surf the web,” said Horn.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving resulted in more than 3,100 roadway deaths across the United States in 2017.
A recent video released by CBS2 says that 14 percent of distracted driving deaths in 2017 were linked to cellphone use.
One driver was convicted of manslaughter after striking and killing another driver in a rear-end collision. The driver was reportedly sending a text regarding dinner plans.
CBS2 warns drivers to put down their cellphones, not just during the holidays, but at any time of the year.
Drunk driving increases during the holidays
People tend to drink more often during the holiday season. Many choose to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Throughout the month of December, drinking is an integral part of many holiday parties, family gatherings, dinners, and year-end celebrations.
“An increase in the number of impaired drivers using the roadways during the winter holidays has been well-established by law enforcement, and the loss of life resulting from impaired driving is also well-established," said Horn.
According to national statistics, approximately 885 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during the month of December in 2017. More than one-third of those deaths typically occur between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Too much pressure, too little time
The holidays often usher in a great deal of stress, especially for those who don't plan ahead.
"Drivers often react to these pressures by driving too fast for conditions, making aggressive lane changes, failing to yield right-of-way, and generally disregarding the needs and safety of others using the road,” Horn explained.
Aggressive driving can also result in road rage incidents. When multiple drivers on the roadway are stressed out, tempers will likely flare up. According to a 2016 AAA survey, more than half of participants admitted that they purposely tailgated another driver. Other common behaviors drivers engaged in included:
- Yelling at other drivers
- Honking in anger
- Giving obscene or hostile gestures
All of these can escalate into a potentially deadly situation.
In more extreme, but less frequent, cases, nearly a quarter of drivers admitted to:
- Purposely blocking another driver from changing lanes
- Cutting off other drivers
- Getting out of their cars to engage in a physical confrontation
- Purposely crashing into another vehicle
If you notice someone behaving aggressively, it's best to keep a safe distance and don't engage them. If you're being tailgated, simply pull over and let the aggressive driver pass you.
Watch out for tired drivers
It's common to stay up later during the holidays to wrap gifts, as well as plan celebrations, parties, and dinners. The increased demands of the holidays means fewer hours of sleep.
“According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who slept 6-7 hours a night were twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more. People sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times,” said Horn.
Sometimes there is overlap
Throughout the month of December, many drivers in the Lafayette area will likely engage in more than one (or all four) of these dangerous habits. The car accident attorneys at Vaughan & Vaughan urge everyone to stay safe and vigilant this holiday season.
Should you or a loved one be injured in a crash because of someone else's negligence, contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team. Our attorneys can help you build a strong legal claim and recover all crash-related damages to the fullest extent.