Three Reasons to be Extra Cautious Driving During the Holidays

In this month’s post, we will explore the increased risk of being involved in a car accident during the holiday season, which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Find out what steps you can take to avoid becoming another statistic.

What You Need to Know if You’re Driving During the Holidays

As of the writing of this post, the winter holiday season is about to begin. Starting with the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and running through the end of Christmas Day, traffic on the roads in Los Angeles and throughout California will increase as people travel to and from home for the holidays.

More traffic inevitably increases the likelihood of car accidents, but this isn’t the only risk factor. Let’s explore the three top reasons you should be extra careful when hitting the road this season.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

There is a good reason why the National Safety Council designates December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Many people equate holiday celebrations with higher alcohol consumption. While that is not innately harmful, it becomes a serious problem when the drinker becomes the driver.

Far too often, people misjudge how much they have been affected by alcohol, making inaccurate assessments like being able to drive safely while only “tipsy” or “buzzed”. The truth is that many factors contribute to being impaired beyond the number of drinks consumed. For example, if you have a slight build, you might become impaired after only one glass of wine or beer. Another factor is if a drink has a very high amount of alcohol per volume (e.g., 100 proof peppermint schnapps), one glass can easily affect your ability to drive, especially if downed quickly.

The best way to avoid causing a car accident while driving under the influence is not to drink before driving, period. Second best is to consume responsibly by only drinking on a full stomach, sticking to only one or two glasses early in the night and stopping hours before you need to drive. Alternately, designate a friend or family member to remain completely sober and handle driving duties, use a taxi or rideshare, or book a hotel room. As for those hosting an event, you can help keep your invited friends and family safe by providing crash space for the night.

Speeding and Aggressive Driving

Increased traffic adds stress to driving. Wanting to reach a destination in time for a festive dinner, needing to get to a flight on-time, and similar motives for getting where you want to go quickly makes it even worse. But exceeding the speed limit, zig-zagging through traffic, and tailgating are dangerous choices far too many holiday season drivers make. Speeding reduces reaction time, which is problematic when you are driving in heavy or stop-and-go traffic. Additionally, already irritated drivers may react with road rage to your cutting them off or riding their bumper. Road rage is already out of control in the Los Angeles area and has been linked to an increasing number of violent actions and traffic accidents.

Rather than depend on speeding and other aggressive tactics, build more time into your travel schedule. Whenever possible, leave a day ahead of everyone else. Instead of racing to a family gathering the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, start your visit early by going Tuesday or sooner. Schedule that flight for Christmas break at least a day or two before Christmas Eve (this has the added benefit of padding your schedule should the flight be delayed or cancelled). By driving during shoulder days around big holidays, you will reduce travel stress and the risk of winding up in the hospital instead of at grandma’s house.

Distracted Driving

Paying attention to anything besides the road while driving poses a threat year-round. However, with the holidays in full swing, it is likelier that you will encounter distractions in your car. These may range from children fighting in the backseat to text message exchanges about whether you remembered to bring dessert. Maybe you are eating a drive-through burger as you go, leaving you with only one hand on the steering wheel. Whatever you are doing besides driving, you can be certain it is interfering with your ability to avoid crashes. You can also be sure that similar distractions are affecting a sizable number of other drivers around you.

The best way to avoid distractions is to eliminate them to the best of your ability (of course, this does not apply to little Billy and Sally arguing over who is on who’s side in your backseat). However, it does apply to storing your phone where you cannot see or hear it, so you won’t be tempted to text. Utilize handsfree call options if you must, but even that poses a distraction from the road. A better solution is to designate someone else in the car as the official responder to any calls or texts, so you know everything is being handled and can safely focus your full attention on driving.

As for meals on-the-go, either schedule your travel around them, so you can skip the drive-through. Or schedule a meal break to coincide with a gas station visit or electric car charging session at a rest stop.

What about those arguing children? We leave management of their in-vehicle behavior to you. However, we can suggest educating them on the dangers of distracting a parent while driving and how their good behavior in the car can help keep their whole family safer.

When the Worst Happens, Our Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

We hope these warnings and tips are helpful and that you will use them to protect yourself and those you love most while driving this season. However, if the reckless or careless behavior of another results in an auto accident, we are available to help. Contact Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation, and we will help you hold the driver responsible accountable for your injuries and other losses.

Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.