Holiday Traffic Expected to Reach an All-Time High This Year

By: Danielle Mauldin December 21, 2018
Holiday traffic is an inevitability—but traffic incidents don’t have to be. It’s important to drive safe, sober, and aware all of the time, and especially during the worst traffic of the year.
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While the holiday season has historically been known for an influx of failed diets and family gatherings, it is also notorious for getting everyone riled up, or “kerbobbled,” as Cindy Lou Who famously said in The Grinch. Whether they’ll be heading to grandma’s house, or to the mall for some last-minute Christmas shopping—busy merrymakers will be clogging the roads all over the country.

Heads up: you’ll be spending a long time on the holiday road this year, since AAA has predicted that over one-third of Americans will be traveling for the holidays and over 102.1 million of these vacationers will be traveling by car.

Due to the increase in holiday traffic expectancy, Thursday, December 20th was the overall worst day to travel throughout the nation.

Since most of us will be forced to spend oodles of time together on the freeways, let’s explore some of the factors that contribute to making the roadways exceptionally risky.

Weather

If you’re driving from Los Angeles to San Diego, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have to endure a snow or rain storm. However, meteorologists predict storms will hit states in the Eastern and Northwestern regions this year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 800 people died each year between 2011 and 2015 due to some type of winter related car accident such as sleet or ice, snow, or freezing rain. Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and New York hold the record for the top 5 deadliest states for winter car accidents in the US.

So how can we avoid an accident in this frosty weather?

  • Prepare your car for take-off. Check your wipers, coolant, and tires—and remember, if using snow tires, be sure to install them before hitting the snow.
  • Drive slowly! Speed limit signs are usually considered for ideal driving conditions, so it’s okay to take it slow in the snow.

Drunk Driving

Winter Accident
The roads are already dangerous enough during the holiday season because of the weather—don't drink and drive on top of that.

‘Tis the season for office parties and spiked eggnog, but it’s also, unfortunately, that time of year where driving under the influence increases significantly. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 40% of traffic-related deaths during the holidays are caused by drunk drivers. Yikes!

So this year—as you enjoy being decked out in an ugly sweater, warmed by a glass of Rumchata—remember that Ubers, taxis, and Lyfts exist among us and are ready to save the day.

Rush Hour

Here’s some good news: there’s so much holiday fun to be had. But with so little time to organize it all, we often try to make a mad dash to our destination, even when bumper-to-bumper traffic is hindering us from doing so.

And now for the bad news: with 102.1 million drivers on the road, you can pretty much expect to be sitting in traffic 4 times longer than you normally would be.

You have the power to prevent rush hour accidents from happening by:

  • Putting on some good music and driving slowly. There will still be cookies by the time you reach your destination.
  • Keeping your kids busy so they don’t distract you. If that means giving them your phone to play games, by all means hand it over.
  • Being aware of the other cars and, remember, you are all in the same boat—or rather, sleigh.

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