For most families, the holidays involve joyful get-togethers and traditional celebrations. Adults and children alike look forward to the holidays with excitement. However, for thousands of families, the holidays have a dark side. A day that most people mark with celebration has become the anniversary of a major car crash that affected their family. Crashes leave people injured or coping with major financial hardship. They can also claim the life of someone in the family.
Motor vehicle collisions are possible at any time on even the safest of roads. Still, there are certain days when an individual’s statistical risk of a crash is higher. The holidays see a significant increase in traffic collisions and fatalities, in no small part because so many people travel to visit their loved ones.
Increased traffic density on holidays only partially explains the increased crash risk. Why are the roads so dangerous on holidays and the weekends immediately before or after the holidays?
Increased drunk driving
Numerous holidays have traditional celebrations that involve alcohol. From beers while watching football on Thanksgiving to champagne toasts on New Year’s Eve and cocktails at Independence Day BBQs, the use of alcohol at holiday celebrations largely contributes to holidays being some of the most dangerous days for drunk driving crashes specifically.
More fatigued drivers
The holidays often spread people quite thin, especially parents with children. From travel obligations requiring hours in the car to overnight wrapping sessions to get presents under the tree, people on the road around the holidays could very easily feel fatigued. Exhaustion affects the brain much like alcohol does and will increase someone’s likelihood of causing a crash or falling asleep at the wheel.
More distracted drivers
From holiday sing-alongs in the car to attempts to settle disputes between children in the backseat, there are countless distractions that can keep someone from focusing on the road. Trying to navigate unfamiliar streets or placing a phone call to a family member are also dangerous distractions that might lead to preventable holiday car wrecks.
Those who are aware of the elevated risks around the holidays may have a better chance of contributing to collision statistics. Identifying and avoiding risk factors for motor vehicle collisions around the holidays will help ensure your family has something to celebrate instead of something to grieve.