Every year, thousands of Atlanta residents brave bad weather, high gas prices and crazy drivers to spend time with friends and family. The holidays are a perfect time to relax and have fun, but during these special times, it’s still important to protect your loved ones.
Impaired Driving During Holidays
Alcohol-related traffic accidents increase by 34 percent during the winter holidays. The night before Thanksgiving, often called Blackout Wednesday, has the highest rate of drunk driving. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, impaired drivers cause 40 percent of fatal traffic accidents between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Seasonal Stress Increases Crimes and Traffic Accidents
People of all ages experience stress from the holidays. Many Americans suffer from anxiety when cooking large dinners, hosting out-of-town guests and making sure that everyone has a good time. Financial difficulties are a common theme for folks who are pressured to overspend on gifts. With everyone rushing to fulfill business and family obligations, there’s an increased risk of accidents and crimes before major holidays.
Out-of-town Drivers and Frustrating Road Conditions
Out-of-town drivers contribute to increased traffic accidents during the holidays. According to AAA, 48.7 million Americans travel over Thanksgiving. During this 10-day holiday period, 2.9 million people will take flights handled by the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. At peak times, local highways are difficult for everyone to navigate. However, drivers who are unfamiliar with the area only increase the amount of congestion. In fact, the Atlanta Constitution-Journal routinely says that Thanksgiving is the worst time to drive in the city.
Tips for Staying Safe During Winter Road Trips
Heavy traffic and variable weather conditions increase the number of hazards that you may face on the road. Whether you’re traveling in the Atlanta area or visiting family in another part of the country, follow these tips to make sure that you have a safe trip.
- Check the weather before you leave. If necessary, you can allow more driving time or postpone your trip.
- Charge your cell phone, and update your contacts list so that you have phone numbers for roadside assistance and your insurance company.
- Avoid driving when you’re fatigued. Drowsiness is a leading cause of wintertime accidents.
- Inspect your tires and the spare before your trip, and inflate them if needed.
- Keep your gas tank half-full during the winter in case of an emergency.
- Don’t use cruise control when the road is slippery. You might need to brake suddenly or recover from a skid. Pay attention when driving near tractor-trailers. Most cars traveling at highway speeds can stop within 140 feet. Large trucks traveling the same speed need 400 feet of braking distance.
- Give other vehicles extra space since it takes longer to recognize hazards in poor conditions.
- Reduce your speed if the weather is bad or if the road is slippery. Be careful when starting, stopping, turning and changing lanes.
Keep safety in mind when you’re traveling this winter. Make sure that your family gets to spend many more happy holidays together. Safety is worth it even if it takes extra time to reach your destination.