Holiday Accidents in Oakland and Northern California

flag.jpgMemorial Day is an opportunity to pause and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. It is also an unofficial kick-off to the summer season, a moment marked by barbeques and trips to the beach. For many, these events involve alcohol. In our many years as your Oakland car accident law firm, we have learned that too often holiday celebrations lead to an increase in traffic accidents, including accidents that cause serious bodily injury or even death. Holiday accidents turn celebrations into tragedies, tragedies that victims are then forced to remember while others celebrate the holiday in the years to come.

California Sees Fewer DUIS but More Traffic Deaths Over Memorial Day Weekend
According to the Oakland Tribune, this Memorial Day weekend saw fewer DUIs in California but more traffic deaths than the 2012 holiday. For the two-and-a-half day span between 6 P.M. on Friday May 24 and 6 A.M. on Monday May 27, the California Highway Patrol reports that 1,113 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence statewide (165 in the Bay Area). In 2012, the corresponding period saw 1,161 DUI arrests (166 in the Bay Area). This year, the period saw fifteen automobile fatalities in California (two in the Bay Area), not including a crash that fell just outside the timeframe claiming three lives in Colma at approximately 7:30 A.M. on Monday. 2012’s two-and-a-half day span saw eleven deaths due to automobile collisions statewide (one in the Bay Area).

Holiday Accidents in California
Holiday accidents are one of the many topics covered by California’s Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions (see Tables 7O and 7P), a product of the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (“SWITRS”). In 2010, the latest year available on the SWITRS website, traffic injuries and deaths in holiday periods were as follows with the numbers associated with alcohol-involved incidents in parentheses: New Year’s 36 deaths, 1,421 injuries (20, 303); Memorial Day 18 deaths, 2,010 injuries (4, 410); July 4th 23 deaths, 2,004 injuries (14, 342); Labor Day 27 death, 1,886 injuries (9, 285); Thanksgiving 30 deaths, 2,017 injuries (13, 289); and Christmas 5 deaths, 980 injuries (3, 184). When comparing numbers, it is important to note the varying lengths of the holiday periods.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t note that driving accidents are not the only incidents that can cause injury during the holiday season. Attention to safety is the key to preventing many of these accidents such as firework injuries, deck collapses, slip-and-falls near wet pools, campfire injuries, and drowning accidents.

Why It Matters
Why are these numbers of interest to an injury law firm? First, we always believe in prevention first (and not just because that made a fun sentence!). We know all too well how painful it is to lose a loved one and how difficult it can be to live with a serious injury. We can’t see all this and not spread the knowledge we’ve gained about what causes accidents and how to prevent them. Helping prevent accidents is one of the goals of this blog. In this case, we want to remind people to be extra careful travelling on holidays and to remember that drunk driving in particular can be a threat even on more “minor” holidays. Summer holidays, where people may drink throughout the day at a picnic and may not realize they are intoxicated, can be especially dangerous. Please, be safe.

There’s also another reason that a personal injury firm would look at holiday accident figures. When we take a case, we make a promise to look at all factors that may have contributed to the accident in order to insure we consider every possible source of money damages. We always consider the possibility that the other driver had been drinking, but we’ll look at it even more when statistics tell us it is more likely. We are also want to be sure to be ready to respond if opposing counsel suggests someone else (our client or another driver) may have been drinking and contributed to the accident. Again, we always prepare and investigate fully, but statistics can help direct our efforts and prepare our client’s case.

If you are injured in a holiday accident in Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento or the surrounding regions, whether on the roadway or off, please call our office to arrange a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Before the Countdown: Staying Safe and Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents this New Year

Americans Will Travel Farther This 4th of July

(Photo by Vince Alongi)