In many places, the risk of an auto accident increases during the holidays, particularly in states with wintery weather. Over a period of almost three decades, the two days before Christmas and New Year's Day consistently had an increase in motor vehicle deaths, according to WTOV9.
During the winter holidays, there are generally more vehicles on the road – more shopping, more travel, more visits to family and friends. This increased traffic volume raises your risk of a crash. Many of these drivers may also feel stressed about road congestion, schedules, family, etc. People may be drinking at holiday parties before driving. Throw into all that the factor of adverse winter weather and the stage is set for serious auto accidents and catastrophic injuries to occur.
Prepare for Winter Travel
As a responsible motorist, what can you do to lower your risk of getting in a crash this month? Since winter weather is a given in our state, make sure you're prepared for storms and poor road conditions:
- Stay home if you can. If you have a work-from-home option or don't have to drive, then don't. Stay off the roads until conditions improve.
- Check tire tread well in advance. Don't wait until the morning of the storm to make sure your tires have appropriate tread, which will help with traction.
- Check windshield wipers well in advance. Rain, sleet and snow reduce visibility. Keeping your windshield clear is essential to preventing a crash. Make sure the wiper blades aren't worn and/or cracked. Replace them if necessary.
- Reduce your speed. You and everyone else on the road will need more time to accelerate, decelerate, change lanes and make turns when conditions and visibility deteriorate.
- Brake, accelerate and maneuver more gradually. Sudden acceleration, deceleration and turns may cause you to lose traction and control in winter weather. Perform these tasks slowly to allow your tires time to grip to the road.
- Be patient and give yourself as much time as possible. Stress and frustration only compound the hazards of winter driving, making it more difficult to think clearly and drive reasonably. Try to build extra time into your schedule so that you don't feel rushed when you get on the road.
While you can't do anything to control how other motorists drive, you can take accountability for your own driving behaviors when Chicago's winter weather hits.
Remember the Fundamentals of Safe Driving
There are basic safety measures you should continue to practice year-round, including during the busy holiday season:
- Buckle up. Seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat passengers and drivers by 45 percent, and reduces the risk of critical injury by 50 percent. Buckle up, every time, every trip – whether you are making a quick run to the neighborhood grocery store or driving across the state to visit family.
- Don't drive distracted. A few thousand people are killed annually in auto accidents involving distracted driving. Don't text and drive. Keep your hands, eyes and mind on the task of driving. Remember that seemingly innocuous activities like eating a snack, adjusting audio and getting into an emotionally demanding conversation with a passenger are also dangerously distracting.
- Don't speed. Speeding is a leading cause of auto accidents across the U.S. Speeding was linked to roughly 9,300 accident fatalities in 2018. Build plenty of time into your driving schedule so you don't feel pressured to speed when you get on the road.
- Don't drive inebriated. Drunk driving remains a serious problem this time of year. From 2011-2016, an average of 300 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Drivers who engage in these careless actions are putting themselves and other motorists at risk. When they cause an auto accident and injuries, they may be held accountable in an accident claim handled by our experienced attorneys.
What to do after a Car Accident in the Chicago Area
If you or a loved one is injured in an auto accident anywhere in Illinois or the surrounding region, or if a loved one has been killed in a crash caused by someone else, pursue justice and maximum compensation with the help of our experienced attorneys. For a complimentary consultation, please call Sklare Law Group at 312-263-0771.