The holidays can be chaotic, and that goes for more than just your house. They can also be fairly chaotic on the roads, as drivers take more trips than they usually would, covering more miles and utilizing many roads that they are unfamiliar with as they travel to extended family members’ homes or other parts of the country. Whenever drivers are in an unfamiliar situation, it is easier for them to get confused or distracted and make serious mistakes.
Unfortunately, there is always going to be a certain level of risk from traveling for the holidays. Whenever traffic levels increase, car accidents become more likely. There are already more than 40,000 fatal accidents in the United States every year, and many of them can be attributed to holiday driving. So how can you stay safe?
Start by staying sober
The first thing to remember is that a lot of holiday car accidents happen because people are driving while they are under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Any time that you’re on the road, it’s very important to be sober. You always have to consider the fact that you’re sharing the road with other impaired drivers and that one of them could strike your vehicle at any moment. Be a defensive driver, stay alert and make plans to get a ride if you know that you’re going to be consuming alcohol.
Keep your seatbelt on
It’s also important to remember seatbelts at this time, in part because of the higher traffic congestion levels that may lead to more accidents overall. Some of these accidents are going to happen at lower speeds, and they may be survivable for those wearing a seatbelt. But not having your seatbelt on could cause you to suffer very severe injuries. Always buckle up, even when the trip is short or you think the roads will be clear.
Distractions are also common during the holidays. There are drivers who are making last-minute phone calls or texting family members about when they plan to arrive at the house. There are others who are out searching for last-minute gift ideas, possibly scrolling through options on their phone or even trying to call the store to find out about stock. Whenever you’re in the car, keep your phone in your pocket and try to avoid all the distractions that you can. This allows you to stay alert so that you can also avoid the mistakes made by dangerous drivers around you.
Consider potential weather issues
Depending on where you’re driving, some substantial weather issues can come up over the winter holidays. These could include everything from rain and fog to sleet and ice. Even a wet road is a slick road, and a wet road in dropping temperatures can be incredibly dangerous. Always check the weather before you drive and make sure that it is actually safe to do so. Sometimes, just delaying a drive by a few hours is enough to keep you safe.
Don’t drive if you’re tired
Finally, holiday celebrations with friends and family members can be a wonderful time. But they can also take quite a toll on your energy levels. If you’re heading home from a social gathering, it may be late at night and you may be feeling very fatigued from days of events or travel time. Remember how dangerous drowsy driving is. No deadline is worth getting into a serious crash.
What do you do if you get into an accident?
As noted above, other drivers are responsible for your safety in many ways. These mistakes are going to define whether or not you get home without injury. You can control what your actions are, and you can avoid making some of these mistakes yourself, but you cannot guarantee that other drivers are going to do the same thing. They will still drive while fatigued, intoxicated or otherwise in an unsafe condition.
As a result, you could be injured in an accident. It’s very important to have the right insurance on your car so that you know you’re covered if this happens. You may also want to consider things like taking pictures of the scene, exchanging insurance information with the other driver, getting witness statements and much more. Just be sure you understand all of the appropriate steps to follow after someone else causes a crash.