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Auto Accidents and Holiday Driving: What You Should Know?

Auto Accident Factors

There are many factors that cause auto accidents, but around the holidays the main players are alcohol, exhaustion, and vision. So which holidays see the most auto accidents? Understandably the mention of alcohol leads many to believe that it would be New Year’s Day. It may surprise to you know that that title belongs to Thanksgiving Day.

‘Tis the season for late-night parties, staying up to watch Christmas movies, and hitting the road for long drives to grandmother’s house. This holiday season, over half of adults aged 18-64 will be driving while drowsy. Drowsy driving causes up to 100,000 police-reported crashes each year and results in over 1,500 deaths and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

Drowsy driving is difficult to attribute to a crash as there is no test to determine sleepiness like there is for intoxication. Many local police officers have not been formally trained in identifying drowsiness as a crash factor and many who suffer drowsy driving incidents are not fully honest in self-reporting.

Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA, points out that “more vehicles create a greater potential for conflict.” The holidays are the perfect recipe for an increase in auto accidents and injuries. It should be no surprise that of the six deadliest holidays on American roads, three of them are within weeks on one another (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day).

As a result, while polls indicate that 13% of drivers admit to nodding off at the wheel at least once a month, the fact remains that not enough is being done to identify and prevent drowsy driving.

For starters, many of us underestimate the potential risks and dangers that are associated with drowsy driving. Add to that the fact that many people are overconfident in their abilities to fight sleep while behind the wheel and we have a growing problem on American roadways.

To help protect you from any drowsy driving-related accidents this holiday season, here are a few tips that you can use to make sure you are alert at the wheel:

  • Get Enough Sleep.

It may be the oldest advice in the book, but there’s a reason for it. Too little or too much sleep can cause tiredness and fatigue. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and do your best to establish a sleep routine (i.e. a bedtime of 10 pm each night).

  • Give Yourself The Gift Of Time.

When making long trips, it is essential that you allow yourself some extra time to arrive at your destination. This allows you to stop for breaks when needed. If you feel yourself starting to drift off, find a rest stop or even pull far off the shoulder and catch a quick nap.

  • Avoid Night Driving.

Driving at night is already difficult enough. But the lack of daylight does more than just limit visibility, it can increase the chances of becoming drowsy. Leave earlier in the morning and travel by daylight when possible.

  • Tag Team The Trip.

If your journey is longer than a few hours, it is always best to use the buddy system. This doesn’t necessarily mean team driving either. If you have a passenger with you, ask them to keep you alert. Engage in conversation, sing along with one another; anything to keep you awake and alert.

Thanksgiving Auto Accidents

Thanksgiving Day sees an average of 576 fatalities a year. A number reached from a collection of data kept since 1982. Of those fatalities, 41% are alcohol-related. The increased traffic volume plays its role in the auto accident increase. So to does alcohol. Which is why alcohol abuse is and continues to be the main concern for people who track fatality data.

While alcohol accounts for nearly half of the fatalities experienced during the holidays, researchers and police officers want to remind people that vision plays a key role in safe driving. Daylight Savings Time brings darker times for commutes and as a result makes driving that much more dangerous.

Vision doesn’t just apply to daylight, but also to attention. The rising use of cell phones while driving has led to a dramatic increase in distracted driving. Study after study has shown that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and it happens at a significantly higher frequency.

So whether you’re setting off to Grandma’s house to eat some turkey, open Christmas presents, or celebrate the coming year, be sure to practice safe driving habits. Drive the speed limit, keep a safe distance between you and the vehicles ahead of you, don’t drink and drive, and put down that cell phone. The holidays are full of laughter and joy. And sharing that merriment with people should extend to America’s roadways.

Holiday travel is wrought with car accidents. Many of them will be the result of irresponsible decisions like driving drowsy. Consider these tips before setting out on your Christmas journey this year and please do your part to keep the roads safe this holiday season; avoid driving drowsy.