Halloween is now behind us and for many Americans that means the start of the busy holiday season. As we look forward to gathering with family and friends, hitting the malls for those great holiday bargains, and toasting the new year with a glass of champagne or two, we should also be aware of the increased risk of traffic accidents on four key days between now and January 2nd.
Celebration and Stress Add to Traffic Dangers
There are a couple of main contributors to the days of the year on which the most traffic accidents occur. The first is an increased volume of traffic. Very simply, the more cars there are out on the roads and highways, the greater the chance an accident will happen. This is why many of the deadliest days throughout the year are also the busiest travel days. The second cause of increased traffic accidents is the state of mind of drivers. Whether a particular holiday leads to more people drinking and driving or contributes to higher rates of stress and frustration, special times of the year often push drivers to do things behind the wheel they don’t do on ordinary days.
Upcoming Days to Watch Out For
Keeping in mind the contributing factors of more cars on the road and stressed or drunk drivers, it’s not surprising that the following days are among the top 10 deadliest days of the year on America’s highways:
Thanksgiving Day. So many people head over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving that accidents are just statistically more likely to happen. Add to that the fact that many drivers, especially at the end of the day, have had a few too many drinks and are sleepy from overeating, and you have a recipe for disaster on the road. If you can’t avoid driving on turkey day, make sure that you are wide awake and sober so that you can stay alert to other drivers who may be impaired.
Black Friday. According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, car accident claims are double on the day after Thanksgiving what they are on an ordinary Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year inspires people to get up before sunrise and rush from store to store to grab limited bargains. Shoppers, and therefore drivers, are stressed out and tired and often drive aggressively, endangering all other drivers. To avoid becoming a victim of road rage, wait for Cyber Monday to do your shopping. If you can’t do that, park farther away from store entrances as many of the accidents on Black Friday happen in parking lots.
Christmas Day. Christmas Day and the six days surrounding it have accident rates similar to those on New Year’s Day. More people travelling is one factor, but people also report higher rates of stress caused by too much time with extended family as a reason behind dangerous behavior behind the wheel including speeding, aggression, and fatigue. There is also an increased use of alcohol as people celebrate the holiday. Give yourself a gift this Christmas and limit your exposure to stressful situations. You and those around you will be safer on the roads as a result.
New Year’s Day. While many people think of New Year’s Eve as a dangerous time to be on the road, it is actually New Year’s Day that has a higher rate of accidents. This is probably due to the fact that drunk drivers aren’t on the roads returning from parties until after midnight, which makes it New Year’s Day, but fatigued and hungover drivers during the day on January 1st also cause accidents. This day also marks the end of the holiday season and large volumes of traffic are on the highways heading home. You may not be able to avoid travel on this day, but extra awareness of the dangers can protect you and your family.
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