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Holiday Road Trip Safety - The Eberst Law Firm - Stuart and Gainesville Florida

Holiday Driving Statistics in America

The holidays are a time for families to come together and celebrate festivities; however, this exciting time of year is also a perilous time to be on America’s roads, and it’s essential to keep safety precautions in mind while traveling so that celebrations don’t result in tragedy.  According to the American Safety Council, the six most dangerous holidays to be on the road are: the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Christmas, Labor Day & Memorial Day.  Similarly, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as a nation and throughout the past five years there was an average of 300 fatalities related to drunk driving crashes that occurred the week between Christmas and New Years.  Even further, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that around 25,000 injuries result from alcohol-related crashes that occur between the time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  

The action-packed holidays Christmas and New Years are only weeks away, so we at The Eberst Law Firm urge you to step aside from the holiday hustle and bustle for a moment to review the below travel tips to ensure that you and your family have a safe holiday season.  If you are not traveling, please share with friends and family who will be traveling this year.

Travel Tips for America’s Roadways during the Holidays

Maintain & Prepare your Vehicle

First things first, you will need to make sure that the vehicle you are traveling in is safe; take it to a mechanic to have it inspected and see if anything needs to be repaired, replaced or monitored.  Be sure to have the mechanic pay special attention to your brakes, tires (make sure you have a spare!), hoses, lights, and battery while making sure to top off any fluids. If your vehicle is in questionable shape or you simply don’t feel comfortable driving it over a long distance, remember there are other options such as renting a vehicle or borrowing someone else’s vehicle.   If you are traveling to a colder area for the first time, you may want to read pre-owned car company, BuyHerePay Here’s article about car winterization tips.

Travel During the Day

According to Edmunds, an online resource for automotive information, the death rate from traffic crashes at night is three times higher than the death rate of daylight traffic crashes.  There are several reasons why driving at night time is more dangerous: there are more drunk and/or drug influenced drivers on the road at night versus the daytime, it is generally more difficult to see at night time, and glares from oncoming headlights and/or signs can skew vision.  For example, if someone is driving intoxicated and they forget to turn on their headlights in a poorly lit area, you will likely have trouble spotting that person, but you wouldn’t have to worry about this in the daytime. EyePromise, the website for an eye health supplement, offers further statistics regarding the dangers of and statistics about driving at night.

Prepare for Emergencies

Remember that you can never be too prepared for a long-distance trip on the road.  Call your insurance company beforehand to verify that your policy is active. Also, you may want to verify that you have coverages such as roadside assistance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  Make sure all insurance cards and your vehicle registration documents are easily accessible.  Download traffic apps on your phone, like Waze, to stay up to date on road and traffic conditions as you are driving.  Make a written list of important phone numbers, so you are prepared if something happens to your phone. Bring plenty of cash for unexpected cash-only costs, parking and/or tolls.  Prepare an emergency kit that includes items such as the following: water, healthy snacks like nuts or granola bars, paper towels, blankets, tools for changing a flat, back-up phone charger(s), back-up GPS, physical maps, a flare, sunglasses, a first-aid kit, a gallon of back-up gasoline, a disposable camera, and more.

Don’t forget: Safety First!

Don’t get so wrapped up in the excitement of the holidays that you forget to abide by driving basics!  Wear your seatbelt, watch your speed, practice defensive driving, and always abide by the laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year seat belts saved the lives of 14,955 people; if everyone had been wearing their seatbelts that year, 2,549 more people could have lived.  Be sure that children’s restraint systems and car seats are properly secured and are appropriate for their age, weight and height.  Keep any large gifts or potentially hazardous items in the trunk of the vehicle. If you are on the road and you absolutely have to pull over, make sure to do so in a well-lit area that is as far as possible from the flow of traffic.   

Eat & Be Merry, but Drink Responsibly

If you do choose to partake in celebratory drinking and don’t have a designated driver, plan it out so that you have more than plenty of time to recover from your drink before driving, and try to drink a glass of water for every drink.  Be careful not to assume that just because your hotel is a mile away you can drive there safely after a couple or more drinks; call an Uber or Taxi or have a friend or family member drop you off. Also, be cautious that laws vary from state to state, so a small traffic infraction in one state could be a larger offense in another.  

On the flipside, if you have been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, please call us at The Eberst Law Firm as we have handled thousands of cases against inebriated drivers, we are prepared to fight for you to ensure that you receive the best settlement possible.

Only Drive When Alert and Healthy

Make sure that you are at your optimal health before you begin your trip.  Start out by getting a good night’s rest, as research performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that as many as 20% of lethal accidents involve a driver who is tired.  Also, try to make sure that an aware adult passenger is somewhere in the car to assist the driver with locating exits, keeping an eye out for road hazards, and being available to trade places with the driver when the driver needs a break.  Don’t eat heavy, carb-laden meals before you travel as they can make you tired. Similarly, be sure to not take any medications that could make you drowsy, such as Benadryl, certain pain or allergy medications, and more. Try to take a break from driving at least every two hours, which includes getting out to stretch and move around for a while.  Also, be sure to stay hydrated and pack healthy, nutrient-filled snacks to enjoy along the trip to keep your energy levels up.

Navigating New Areas

Driving in a new area can sometimes be confusing and frustrating, and one of the most important tips when driving in unfamiliar territory is to stay calm.  Don’t be surprised if you miss an exit or drive past a turn you were supposed to make; expect that these things may happen so that when they do, you can accept them and calmly get back on track versus slamming on your breaks or making an erratic, potentially dangerous lane change.  Additionally, drive slower than you normally would so that you are less likely to run into these issues. Be careful to pay extra attention to the road and not let distractions take your eyes from the road for too long. Make a mental note of landmarks so that you can remember them on your drive back home.  You can even try researching your route online in advance in order to learn about changes in elevation, read about local wildlife that could be in the area/roads, or look up your destination on GoogleEarth so that you can get a glimpse of the terrain beforehand.

Seek Legal Representation if a Holiday Accident Occurs

It is important to seek legal representation immediately after a car crash, as the statute of limitations (the amount of years you have to file a certain kind of lawsuit) for personal injury claims varies from state to state.  In Florida, injured parties have up to 4 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim.  However, the states Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisiana only have a 1-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

You should consult with us at The Eberst Law Firm even if you are involved in a car accident in another state, as we can help you find quality, reputable legal counsel in another state. Likewise, if you have an out of state family member who was visiting Florida when he/she was involved in a crash, advise him/her to call us as soon as possible so that we may begin investigating the claim.  

Please refer to the following link to learn more about the Basics of Car Accident Claims in Florida.

Speak with us immediately so that you can spend more time with family through your precious holiday season, while leaving it to us to handle communications with the insurance companies.

Sources

http://thenewswheel.com/infographic-holiday-driving-statistics/
https://www.transportation.gov/www.transportation.gov/TransportationTuesday/holiday-drunk-driving-facts
https://www.scramsystems.com/images/uploads/general/content-images/holiday/drinking-duis-holidays-infographic.pdf
https://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/dont-be-a-traffic-statistic-this-holiday-season.html
https://www.eyepromise.com/blog/night-driving/why-its-so-difficult-driving-at-night/
https://newsroom.aaa.com/2014/11/one-five-fatal-crashes-involve-drowsy-drivers/
https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/thanksgiving-travel-advisory-drive-safely-and-make-it-table
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/statute-of-limitations-state-laws-chart-29941.html
http://www.buyherepayhereusa.com/blog/10-ways-to-winterize-your-car/
https://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/coverage/uninsured-underinsured-motorist-coverage.html