Think about all the hazards that can appear on roads around the holiday season. Persons who crawl behind the wheel without a thought given to how much alcohol they consumed at a holiday party. Drivers on their phones asking if they need to pick anything up from the store or texting someone that they’re on their way. Travelers who have come halfway across the country and who make dangerous maneuvers because they don’t know where they’re going.
All of these hazards may be apparent at other times of the year, but the sheer number of dangerous incidents rises dramatically around this time of the year. Backing this assertion up is new research from the Center for Advanced Public Safety of the University of Alabama. By comparing crash rates around the trifecta of Christmas, New Year’s, and Thanksgiving, researchers were able to deduce that Christmas actually proved far more hazardous over the past decade. While the data was only compiled at the state level, there’s certainly a good chance that this speaks to trends apparent around the entire country.
When analyzing Christmas, it was revealed that crash rates from December 21 until the day after the holiday were 18% higher than on Thanksgiving and 27% higher than the period leading up to the New Year. Last year, that meant just shy of 2,000 crashes in the Christmas timeframe, nearly 1,700 around Thanksgiving, and 1,552 in the lead-up to January 1. Fatality rates remained similar, but Christmas saw a greater level of property damage and crashes resulting in injuries.
Interestingly, the study revealed that the day of the week that the holidays fall on can impact the number of crashes one can expect from the holidays. This year, for instance, the end of last week and the beginning of this week are thought to be the most risky days, with the weekend perhaps being slightly safer.
The professor behind the study offers some insights into the ways that holiday travelers can protect themselves from becoming one of these statistics, and that starts with planning one’s travels as expertly as possible. When you head out early in the morning, the risk of being forced to share the road with numerous inattentive drivers will necessarily diminish because traffic won’t be as heavy. If you don’t have far to go, Christmas itself might be a great travel day because most long-distance travelers will already be at their destinations.
And of course, you should cut out all those habits we described above that can lead to their share of accidents on any day, not just during the Christmas season. Also be sure to buckle up so that any crashes that do occur have a much smaller chance of leaving you seriously or fatally injured.