Traffic fatalities are typically higher during the winter holidays than other times in the winter because of more people traveling by car and higher rates of alcohol consumption at holiday parties and family gatherings. Increased road traffic and drunk drivers are two of the biggest contributors to traffic accidents so it’s not surprising that the holidays come with an increased risk of fatal crashes.
Losing a loved one in an accident is tragic at any time of the year, but a holiday fatality can be even more heart wrenching. While nothing can bring back your loved one, you have the right to seek justice and compensation for your losses through a car accident claim or wrongful death claim when your loved one was injured as a result of another driver’s negligence. Contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights and any appropriate next steps.
Christmas Traffic Fatalities
This chart from the NSC shows traffic deaths during the Christmas day period* compared to the weeks before between 1995 and 2019. In the ten years between 2009 and 2019, an average of 301 people were killed in Christmas period traffic fatalities. The two deadliest hours during the Christmas holiday period are 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas Day as people head home from Christmas day celebrations in the dark.
*The NSC defines the Christmas day period as 6 p.m. on December 24 to 11:59 p.m. on December 25 but if the 24th and 25th overlap with or fall next to a weekend, the weekend dates would be included as well. The 2022 Christmas period will last between 6 p.m. on Friday, December 23 to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 26 (with Christmas falling on a Sunday, the paid holiday is Monday). Years with extended holiday periods typically have more fatalities.
Reduce your risk of a Christmas holiday crash
Here are four things you can do to reduce your risk of a traffic accident this Christmas.
- Wear seat belts. Ensure that you and every passenger in your vehicle is wearing a seatbelt and that infants and children are strapped into appropriate car seats or booster seats. When seat belts are worn properly, they reduce the risk of fatalities for front-seat passengers by 45 percent. Hundreds of fatal accidents could be prevented each year if everyone consistently wore seat belts.
- Do not drink and drive. According to data from NHTSA, at Christmas, an average of 63 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes test positive for alcohol compared to 52 percent at other times of the year. Many lives could be saved this Christmas holiday period if no one got behind the wheel while intoxicated. Plan to stay overnight, have a designated driver or abstain from alcohol in order to ensure that you are not drinking and driving. If you see another vehicle swerving on the road, get out of their way and call 9-1-1.
- Fly instead of longer road trips. If you are planning to take a road trip over four hours, consider flying instead because it is a much safer mode of transportation. This way you won’t be contributing to road congestion and will avoid the risk of a motor vehicle accident. If you do decide to take a road trip, remember to be patient, use your turn signals, and avoid weaving in and out of traffic.
- Do not drive overnight. Driving while tired and in the dark can dramatically increase your risk of being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. If you are planning to stay very late visiting with family or friends, see if it’s an option to stay there overnight and head home in the morning when it’s daylight and you’re rested (and the alcohol has definitely worn off).
Seek the help of a Bellingham car accident lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!