The holidays can be the happiest time of the year, but unfortunately, they can also be the most dangerous, with more fatal car crashes occurring due to increased travel time, more alcohol use and excessive speed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA predicts that during Christmas week, from Tuesday, December 24, 2019 at 6 p.m. through Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 5:59 a.m., 799 people will lose their lives nationwide due to car crashes. While it may be uncomfortable to consider these predictions, NHTSA’s report says that analyzing and forecasting fatalities can serve as useful warnings to the public, actually making roads safer.
“No one wants to think about what can go wrong, especially at such a joyful time of year, but as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure,” said Jon Bloom, vice president, personal auto, Erie Insurance. “The good news is that there are specific things that people can do help keep themselves and their families safe this holiday season.”
Erie Insurance offers these five tips for safer holiday driving.
- Keep your car road-ready. Proper maintenance will help keep your car in shape for whatever road conditions you encounter. In addition to getting regularly scheduled oil changes, make sure your car’s fluids are topped off and that filters, hoses and other components are in good working order. If they’re showing signs of wearing out, replace them.
- Maintain properly inflated tires. Not maintaining the right tire pressure can lead to flats and blowouts, which could cause you to lose control of your car and crash. Pay close attention to your car’s tire pressure monitoring system. If you see an alert that tire pressure is low, fill them as soon as possible.
- Be ready for emergencies. While maintaining your car can reduce your chance of being stranded along the side of the road, it could still happen. Keep an emergency kit in the car with a cell phone charger, blanket and first aid kit, along with bottled water and snacks. Also, check with your insurance agent to ensure your policy includes Emergency Roadside Service coverage so that if your car does break down, you can call for help.
- Give yourself plenty of time. With speeding being one of the top causes of car crashes, it’s important to remember that there’s no prize for arriving first. It’s much better to drive the speed limit – or even lower, depending on road conditions – and build in a few extra minutes to get where you’re going, especially when driving near busy shopping malls or on holiday travel days when traffic is heavy.
- Stay sober or designate a driver. Celebrating with a holiday toast? Plan ahead and have a designated driver, or use a cab or ride sharing service to get home. Regardless, never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.
While the holidays can be a particularly perilous time to drive, taking precautions can help ensure you, and others on the road, have a safe season.