With the holiday season in full-swing comes an increase in traffic as more people hit the roads to visit family and friends, finish their holiday shopping, and attend holiday parties. The increase in people on the road also increases the chances of traffic accidents caused by distracted, aggressive, or impaired drivers.
Driver distractions come in all forms, but the most common distraction for most drivers is the smartphone. Take this time to start your New Year’s Resolutions now and put down the phone. Texting, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can wait until you’ve reached your final destination, or a stopping point where your full attention can be devoted to your phone instead of trying to divide your attention between heavy traffic and the phone screen.
Don’t drive angry,is a mantra we should all adopt from the great Bill Murray. Whether you are the consummate planner or the consummate procrastinator, we all tend to find ourselves in a rush to get that last minute gift, or running to a store because we have run out of something at the most inopportune time. Taking a few moments to try to temper the frustration of being in this situation can help avoid transferring your frustrations to the gas pedal.
The biggest concern with being on the road during the holidays is the impaired driver. The Greater Houston Area ranks near the top of places with the highest frequency of drunk driving crashes resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Take for instance this most recent example, where an alleged drunk driver caused a minor crash, fled the scene, and caused another crash that resulted in a fatality. As a former prosecutor, I have had the unpleasant duty of having to investigate fatality crashes during the holidays. Almost all of the time, the drunk driver was coming from a holiday party and was either heading home or heading to their next stop along their holiday party circuit. Holiday gatherings are fun. For many of us, these gatherings are a great time to catch up with friends and family that we rarely get to see during the course of the year. If you are planning on attending holiday parties, it is important to plan for a safe ride home. Conveniently, several local cab and car services now offer apps that allow you to book a safe ride home from your phone.
If you plan on being a designated-driver or otherwise find yourself on the road this holiday season, there are some other things to keep in mind while driving during the holidays, especially at night. First, when approaching an intersection, or preparing to enter one from a stop, take a moment to make sure everyone else around you is obeying the traffic lights. Frequently, impaired drivers either do not see that they have a red light, or they are traveling too fast to stop in time. If you are on the freeway, pay extra attention to your rearview mirror, if you see a set of headlights approaching extremely fast, then get out of the way. It is not your job to attempt to enforce the speed limit by attempting to get the other car to brake and conform to your speed. Certainly, such an attempt will be lost on a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Finally, if during your travels your vehicle experiences mechanical issues such as a flat tire, try to do everything you can to get your vehicle off the main lanes of traffic and preferably off the freeway. All too often, people get into an accident with a drunk driver when they stop their vehicle on the side of the road (or worse in a moving lane of traffic) because their car had a flat tire or experienced some other mechanical issue.
While there are always risks in traveling, we hope these tips, along with planning and extra vigilance, will help insure this holiday season is a safe and joyous one.
If you or someone you know have been injured in an accident with an impaired driver, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.