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Reminder: Christmas to New Year’s Among Riskiest Driving Periods

Just in time for the holidays, the international safety nonprofit the National Safety Council has issued a reminder that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the period surrounding them make up one of the most dangerous times of year for drivers. Statistics have routinely shown a jump in serious and fatal traffic accidents around a number of major holidays, but the period beginning just before Christmas and ending after New Year’s Day is among the worst, due to increased travel, weather conditions and drunk driving.

According to estimates from AAA, some 95 million people will be on America’s roads this year, before and after the holidays. The unfortunate truth is that number of people on the road leads to a statistical projection of some 27,900 injuries, and 250 or more fatalities, in car accidents.

In the holiday season, however, there’s more going on than just more people out driving, according to the National Safety Council. Drinking and driving is a major contributor, especially on New Year’s. Between 2007 and 2011, the Council says, some 42 percent of all fatal traffic accidents in the New Year’s period involved an intoxicated driver.

While traffic is a key factor, too, don’t think that California isn’t affected by weather-related accidents. It seems counterintuitive, the Council’s manager of statistics says, but more wintertime traffic fatalities occur in good weather than bad, because adverse weather keeps more people from getting behind the wheel.

The Council has just released its list of the most dangerous times of year for drivers. It considered National Science Foundation projections of serious and fatal car accidents expected in 2013 and 2014, its own data on traffic accidents and fatalities between 2007 and 2011, and factors such as the day of the week upon which certain holidays occur. Unsurprisingly, their data found the most dangerous holidays for drivers were Independence Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, New Year’s Day (and late New Year’s Eve) and Christmas (beginning the afternoon of Christmas Eve).

Don’t let a car accident be what you remember about this holiday season. If you must drive during these periods, please take extra care and wear your seat belts. If you’re planning on celebrating on New Year’s Eve, plan a sober ride, and discuss sober rides with all your guests before any drinking begins. The Cartwright Law Firm wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

Source: 24/7 Wall St., “The Most Dangerous Holidays in America,” Michael B. Sauter and Thomas C. Frohlich, Dec. 20, 2013

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