Traveling by vehicle during the holidays is especially dangerous. To be sure, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 340 people may die on U.S. roads during this upcoming Christmas holiday period. Indeed, car travel has the highest fatality rate during the holidays when compared with other major forms of transportation.
At the law office of Freeburg Law, LLC, we want you and your family to be as safe as possible this Christmas season. To help you avoid car accidents, we’ve put together this list of advice for safe driving during the holiday season. If you are involved in an accident and need legal help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly for more information about your legal options.
1. Prioritize Sobriety
Everyone knows that drunk driving is illegal, but do you really know just how dangerous it is? Every single day in the United States, there are about 28 drunk driving-involved fatalities, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This Christmas season, one way that you can stay safe is to make driving sober your top priority. If you’ve had an alcoholic beverage or consumed another impairing substance, don’t get in the driver’s seat. When you go to parties or holiday events, make a plan for how you will get home—whether that means assigning a designated driver, taking public transit, or calling a cab or rideshare vehicle.
Not only should you avoid alcohol when you’re the one driving, but you should also keep an eye out for others on the road who may have had too much to drink. Drunk driving tends to increase during the holiday season. If you notice that another driver on the road is swerving or driving erratically, make a mental note of their plates and vehicle make/model, pull over to a safe spot, and call the police.
2. Service Your Vehicle
One easy way to make sure that your vehicle is in top operating condition—which will both help to keep you safe and may improve your fuel efficiency—is to get it served regularly, but especially before any long road trips. If you’re traveling this holiday season by vehicle, it’s worth having your car inspected. During a vehicle maintenance check, your tire pressure will be checked and tires will be rotated, fluids will be topped off, windshield wiper blades will be replaced if necessary, and any other necessary maintenance should be identified and performed. This can help to mitigate a vehicle breakdown. Having tires that are in good shape and windshield wipers that work properly can also help keep you safe in the event of any precipitation or wintry weather. If you’re traveling somewhere where a lot of snow is expected, be sure that you have chains or snow tires ready to go.
You should also prepare for poor weather by scheduling extra time into your agenda if you suspect that bad weather will hit, slowing down, and being prepared with an ice scraper and an emergency kit. It’s always a smart idea to have enough food and water to last for a few days in case you need it, as well as warm clothing, flashlights, and blankets.
3. Plan Your Route in Advance
When driving to a new place, it’s easy to get flustered by not knowing which turn to take or what landmarks to look for, or distracted by constantly checking the map. Even if you do know the route and have driven it dozens of times, if you don’t take some time to plan out your trip, you may encounter things like road closures or traffic jams or bad weather—all of which may have been avoided with some pre-trip research. For example, high wind warnings were issued throughout Wyoming last week. Taking some time to map out which roads you’ll take and how you’ll get to your destination is important. This way, you can avoid the most highly trafficked areas and potential road closures, plan drive times around any potential storms, and plan out where you’ll fill up for gas, rest, food, etc.
4. Rest, Change Drivers
Did you know that statistics show that fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving? In a single year, the NHTSA reported 697 drowsy driving-involved fatal crashes. Before you get behind the wheel of your car—especially for a long trip—make sure that you’ve had a full night’s sleep and are feeling fresh and fully awake.
Another tip for staying alert and safe behind the wheel is to take frequent breaks and to stay well-hydrated and nourished. If you have the option to do so, switching drivers every few hours is a great way to give both drivers a break and make sure everyone is well-rested when they’re the one operating the vehicle. If you’re traveling an especially long distance, don’t hesitate to book a night at a hotel and get a good night’s rest in halfway through the trip. It’s worth it.
5. Practice Safe Driving Behavior
Finally, it’s always a good idea to practice safe driving behaviors, whether you’re driving five minutes to the grocery store or five days across the county. Always put away distractions while driving and never text while behind the wheel; slow your speed when traffic or other conditions, like poor lighting or weather, dictate it; avoid tailgating and other aggressive driving behaviors; never speed; and drive defensively—remember, even if you’re driving safely, someone else may not be. When driving around large trucks, provide plenty of distance and never drive in a truck’s blind spots.
Call Our Experienced Wyoming Car Accident Attorney if You’re in a Crash
If you’re involved in an accident this holiday season, our experienced Wyoming car accident lawyer at the office of Freeburg Law, LLC wants to help. We know how traumatic being involved in a crash, especially over Christmas, is, and we want to help. If you have been in an accident caused by the fault of another party and have suffered serious injuries, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your legal rights and how we can help, please contact our law firm directly today or send us a message at your convenience. We offer free consultations.