Holiday Travel Guide: Safety On The Road

Lever & Ecker, PLLC December 4, 2015 Car Accidents

Millions of Americans will be engaging in holiday travel this year to see their loved ones. For some, that journey will be more stressful than originally anticipated. AAA has estimated that nearly 28,000 people will be seriously injured in auto accidents.

While there is no way to prevent every single accident from happening, being aware of what causes the majority of accidents, and how you can prepare, may help keep you and your family safe.

Factors That Contribute To Accidents

There are many factors to take into account while behind the wheel of a car. Knowledge is power, and being aware of how to deal with hazardous conditions may help prevent an accident. Common causes of accidents include:

Winter Weather Conditions

Precipitation

Rain and snow can create a slick or icy roadway. This impacts the driver’s visibility distance, the friction between the tires and the pavement, and the distance required to come to a complete stop.

Pavement Condition

Potholes are a leading cause of tire damage. While it may seem easy to just avoid a pothole, the reality is that when it is dark, raining, or snowing, you simply may not see it. When traveling at high speeds, or during winter weather, a tire blowout can cause the driver to lose control.

Wind Speed

Wind may seem like a minor issue when you are protected inside of an automobile, but the wind can cause visibility issues if it blows leaves, snow, or dust across the roadway.

Limited Daylight

Winter days are always “shorter” – at least in terms of the amount of daylight that is available. As it gets darker, depth perception, color recognition, and the driver’s peripheral vision are all compromised. Poorly aimed headlights can also result in a glare that temporarily blinds the person behind the wheel.

Human Error

As much as we hate to admit it, humans are not perfect and many accidents are caused by mistakes that the driver makes. Everyone behind the wheel of a car is responsible for making decisions that ensure they have done everything in their power to keep other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in their vicinity safe from harm. Unfortunately, there are several ways in which drivers commonly fail to act responsibly.

Driver Distraction

There are any number of things that can distract a driver – cell phones, other passengers, navigation systems, food, drinks, and pets. Most people don’t do the safe thing – which is either ignore the distraction entirely or pull over to deal with the situation. While trying to handle a distraction and drive at the same time, the driver’s eyes are taken off of the road, and movement can cause the driver to unknowingly turn the wheel causing the car to drift outside of the lane.

Drunk Driving

Raising a glass in celebration is something that most people do during the holidays. While there isn’t anything wrong with enjoying eggnog, wine, beer, or other cocktails during the holidays, there is something wrong with getting behind the wheel when several drinks have been consumed. Drunk driving is a leading cause of fatal accidents during the holidays.

Driving While Fatigued

In all the excitement of wrapping presents, traveling, and spending time with loved ones, many don’t make time to get enough sleep. Some researchers have suggested that driving without enough rest is comparable to driving while intoxicated.

Speeding

Everyone is in a rush to get to their destination and get the festivities started. But speeding means that drivers don’t have enough time to react to an unexpected obstacle like a stopped car, or hazard in the road. Additionally, the greater the speed, the greater the impact. The force from a powerful impact can cause serious injuries to everyone inside of the car.

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we hope that you and your family will travel safely during this holiday season. Below are some travel safety tips that everyone should be aware of before they go on their way.

  • Prepare your vehicle for winter weather conditions. Check tires, clean all lights, fill windshield fluids, and check the windshields and side mirrors.
  • Carry a winter kit in the vehicle. This might include an ice scraper, snow shovel, sand or salt, flashlight, extra batteries, and blankets.
  • Drive with your headlights on – even during the daytime.
  • Be aware of changes in weather and avoid driving during rain and snow if possible.
  • Keep at least a half tank of gas at all times – this will help ensure that you have heat if you end up being stranded.
  • If you are stranded, make sure that there is no snow blocking your exhaust pipe. If the exhaust pipe is blocked, there is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Be extra cautious on bridges and overpasses – these are the first sections of the road to become icy.
  • Maintain a safe distance between vehicles.

But Most Importantly…

Enjoy the time with your loved ones and Happy Holidays!