The holidays are here, and that means an increase in traffic and accidents. There are a number of reasons why the number of accidents tends to increase around the holidays, such as more people driving impaired, inclement weather, and a higher volume of vehicles on the road. The good news is there are a number of things you can do to help make your holiday season driving safer.
Do Not Drive While Impaired
It only takes a few drinks to cause impairment. Even a slight impairment in judgment can cause a serious accident. If you go to a holiday party or event, plan to use a car service, or appoint one person as the designate sober driver. Remember that it typically takes just one drink per hour to put you at the legal limit. In California, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%.
Prepare for Road Trips
Many people enjoy taking a short vacation to visit friends or relatives over the holidays. More and more people are planning to drive to their destinations, likely because of lowered gas prices and an improved economy. If you are driving a long distance, plan to leave in the morning, after you have had plenty of rest. Share driving responsibilities with a family member. Plan your route ahead of time, and avoid known high-density traffic areas.
Allow Plenty of Time
The roads can be crowded with other travelers this time of year. Keep this in mind when planning your route and travel time. Allow enough time to account for unexpected traffic jams, poor weather, or other problems that could make you late. Running behind schedule can make you nervous and cause you to become stressed. It may make you drive faster and take more risks. It can even cause road rage if you encounter a situation that makes you angry. To avoid these issues, leave enough time to arrive at your destination early.
Pay Attention to the Road
More drivers on the road means you need to pay more attention to traffic around you. Employ good defensive driving techniques and stay away from anyone who is driving erratically. Do not use your cell phone or other gadgets while behind the wheel. If you are driving at 55 mph and take your eyes off the road for just five seconds, you travel about the length of a football field. A lot can happen during that short period of time, which is the average length of time it takes a person to read a text message.
What to Do if You are Involved in an Accident
If you are involved in an accident, contact the police and stay safe. If you have been hurt, seek medical attention, even if it is inconvenient to do so. It is always best to make sure that your injuries are properly treated. Make sure that the police fill out a report, and take any witness statements at the scene. You should also contact your insurance company, and file a report with the California DMV within ten days of the accident. If your injuries are severe or if your damages significant, you may need to file a claim.
(image courtesy of HarshLight from San Jose)