When it comes to holiday driving, the risk for accidents is high. There are more people on the road - all in a hurry to get somewhere important - and the weather can sometimes create unfavorable road conditions, especially around winter holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is why insurance companies tend to see an increased amount of accidents, and therefore claims, around major holidays. The results of such incidents are personal injuries, property damage and, more than likely, increased car insurance rates.
A study of statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that Thanksgiving ranks as number 1 on a list of the worst holiday driving days. Thanksgiving is followed by Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and New Year's Eve on this list. Why are these holidays associated with the calamities of traffic mishaps? Part of the reason is that they are during short breaks from school and work, so families have just one or two days to travel away from home, celebrate and travel home again. Under such conditions, motorists tend to drive less safely and, consequently, are involved in accidents.
Many holiday accidents can also be credited to other driving-related factors. For instance, there are an increased number of people on the road. A heavier-than-normal load of traffic can cause motorists to drive more aggressively and to take more risks. It can also cause drivers to be more stressed at the wheel, resulting in road rage. The American Automobile Association estimated that the number of highway travelers over the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday, for example, at just over 38 million people. This was an increase over the 2008 approximation. Additionally, a large percentage of these people traveled over 200 miles to their destinations, according to the AAA. Heavy traffic coupled with long-distance driving leads to tired, stressed drivers and subsequent highway accidents.
Not surprisingly, the two major types of traffic accidents and related fatalities during these periods are alcohol and speeding. The correlation between both of these factors and heavy holiday travel is easy to understand. The NHTSA stated that there were 12,998 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2007 (32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) and in 2007 speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes. A large percentage of the above fatalities were recorded as holiday deaths as travelers hurried on crowded roads to and from social activities where they consumed alcoholic beverages.
Just because holidays are a time to celebrate, does not give drivers the excuse to drive recklessly or irresponsibly. In addition to causing accidents and raising their car insurance premiums, doing so could also be fatal to passengers or other drivers.