Why do car accidents increase during the Thanksgiving and winter holidays?


It may seem counterintuitive, but car accidents increase during the last months of the year. Adverse weather conditions in winter lead to more collisions historically. The months of November, December, and January consistently show at least 25% more traffic fatalities than the other months of the year. December sees the most car accidents according to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

These statistics leave many people wondering what makes these months more dangerous, here are the top factors that contribute to the increase in traffic accidents during these months:

1. Group travel – Once the end of the year approaches, it is common to travel with family and friends and sometimes we do so in different vehicles. When this is the case, it is common for inappropriate driving practices to increase, for example, hasty overtaking to trying to go as close together as possible.

2. Students are not in school – This means that there are more young and inexperienced drivers on the road than during the school year. Inexperienced drivers can cause car accidents, so defensive driving is essential during the winter months. A young driver who is not sufficiently prepared to drive a car constitutes a serious threat to public roads. Normally, teenagers are competent drivers and should always carry a driver’s license.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of death among young people 10 to 19 years old in the United States is due to automobile accidents, where 70% of these traffic accidents are related to alcohol and/or speeding. In the case of accidents in which young people are involved, they occur mainly on weekends, and mainly at dawn.

3. Drinking and driving – During the holiday months, it is more common for people to attend various types of parties where alcohol is present. Certainly, alcohol and driving are not a good combination. Drinking alcohol compromises the driver and his abilities. Drivers must be aware of how alcohol consumption, as well as drug use, can impact their ability to drive. In Texas, the law prohibits driving for all adults with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher.

4. Lower temperatures can affect vehicle performance. Cold weather can affect tire pressure, which can easily lead to blowouts.

5. Reckless driving – Depending on the holiday, it may be much easier for you to drive recklessly. Fielding phone calls from relatives, thinking over the holiday itinerary, roadside seasonal decor, and more pedestrians near the roadway may make drivers more susceptible to being rushed trying to get to their destination. We drive recklessly if we don’t pay enough attention to our driving, this can include racing; passing on blind curves; swerving; passing school buses with their stop signs down, and going around railroad barriers. In Texas, reckless driving also includes high-mph speeding.

Reckless driving is a serious crime in the state of Texas. An individual commits the offense of reckless driving by operating a motor vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of another person or property. Some examples of reckless driving are below:

a. Excessive speed – Exceeding speed limits greatly increase the likelihood of road accidents and, with 25% of all car crashes occurring during winter, it’s clear that a safe journey is very hard while driving on icy roads. Speeding puts everyone on the road in danger: in 2020, 9,812 people died from speeding, which represents more than a quarter (27%) of all traffic fatalities that year. In snow and ice, loss of control of the vehicle may occur at higher speeds and leading to hazardous situations

b. Ignoring Traffic signals – Traffic signs should never be ignored or neglected. A commonly ignored traffic signal is the stop sign. According to Texas Vehicle codes, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance or inside an intersection must stop at the boundary line before passing the crosswalk on the side near to the intersection. If there is no marked boundary line next to the signal, drivers must stop at the entrance of the crossing road.

c. Driver Distraction – The number of reasons drivers are distracted continues to grow and the number of traffic accidents continues to rise consequently. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that there were about 3,723 fatal car accidents due to distraction in 2020, 8.8% more than in 2019, and 20% of these occurred during the winter months. Lack of attention to the steering wheel and smartphone distractions are some of the biggest concerns on the road.

6. Auto Maintenance – It is vital to make a prior review of your vehicle to ensure the proper functioning of its key elements. However, a recent study collected by the Department of Transportation (DOT) reveals that most drivers do not care about the preventive maintenance of their cars.

80% of the vehicles that will be on the roads during the winter season will do so without having received a previous maintenance review, as reflected in the study carried out by the Speedy workshop network. The consequences of this lack of attention by their owners have a direct impact on road accidents.

7. There are more people on the road. Thanksgiving and winter vacations are incredibly popular, which means more and more people will be on the road. Also, if you live in a vacation destination, there will be many people on the road who may be unfamiliar with your local area.

8. Night driving – People are driving to more evening events/parties /family gatherings during the winter holidays, and vision is compromised at night even with appropriate headlights. The low visibility contributes to vehicle accidents. According to statistics from the National Council for Accident Prevention, 42% of traffic accidents occur during the night and early morning.

We should avoid driving between two and five in the morning and at dawn, which is when the possibility of suffering an accident is the greatest, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.  Night-time accidents tend to be more serious than daytime accidents, partly due to 70% loss of visibility and partly due to people falling asleep at the wheel.

Injured in a car accident during the Thanksgiving and winter breaks?

In case you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident that results in injury or death, the lawyers at PMR Law can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys work hard to try and get reckless drivers and insurance companies to compensate you as much as possible so you can cover the expenses and damages related to your recovery.

You must know your rights in terms of Lawsuits Related to Automobile Accidents.

Contact us at 832-667-7700 so we can help you. Our friendly staff will ask you some questions about your issue and connect you with a car accident lawsuit lawyer. You can also fill out the “Free Evaluation Form” found here.

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