For most people, the holiday season is a time of joy. It is a time to spend time with loved ones, to reflect on the year that was, and to look ahead to the year to come. Of course, we all expect to experience a certain level of stress during the holidays, as well; but, we never expect that stress to come from missing the holidays due to a traumatic accident-related injury.
According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES), vehicle accident rates have risen during the holiday season each of the last three years. According to FIRES, accident rates increase consistently from October through December, and these data include accidents involving serious and fatal injuries. In fact, overall, FIRES’ data suggest that nearly half of all vehicle collisions in Florida result in injuries – injuries to drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Protecting Yourself Against Dangerous Drivers During the Holiday Season
Unfortunately, for many of us, there is simply nothing we can do to avoid being seriously injured in a collision during the holiday season. As more drunk, distracted, fatigued, and stressed drivers hit the road, we all face an increased risk of being injured due to someone else’s negligence. While winter weather is rarely a risk factor here in Florida, Tampa-area drivers must nonetheless exercise special caution when driving during the holiday season.
Here are some safe driving tips – and steps you can take after a collision – to help minimize your risk of an uncompensated injury in a car accident during the holidays:
DO: Know the Warning Signs of a Drunk Driver
Drunk driving is a year-round risk for Florida motorists, but the risk of being hit by a drunk driver can increase significantly at certain times during the holiday season. In order to reduce your chances of being hit by a drunk driver, one step you can take is to familiarize yourself with the patterns typically exhibited by individuals who are drunk behind the wheel. For example, if you see a vehicle that is irregularly speeding up and slowing down, drifting across lanes, or weaving within its own lane, these are all common signs that the driver may be intoxicated.
DON’T: Drink and Drive
Of course, all drivers should avoid getting behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink. If you aren’t sure, be safe and catch a ride home. Even low levels of intoxication can significantly increase drivers’ chances of causing an accident; and, while you do not want to take chances ever, it is particularly important to be careful during the holiday season when there are more cars than usual on the roads.
DO: Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
While in-car GPS navigation and Smartphones make it easy to find family members’ homes and shopping centers, you generally want to minimize your interactions with these devices while you are driving. Familiarize yourself with where you are going, and set your destination before you shift into drive. If you get lost or need to make a detour to a new point of interest, pull over at a rest stop or other safe location rather than attempting to input a new destination address while you are at the wheel.
DON’T: Give in to Driving Distractions
GPS navigation, Smartphones, and other distractions can all take drivers’ eyes and minds off of the road and their hands off of the wheel. Once again, while it is important to avoid dangerous driving behaviors at all times, the risk of a distracted driving-related accident can increase substantially during the holiday season. Distracted driving – including talking and texting behind the wheel – is currently among the leading causes of vehicle collisions, and drivers who cause accidents while distracted will often be financially liable for victims’ losses.
DO: Watch Out for Distracted and Inattentive Drivers
During the holiday season, one of the best things you can do to help improve your chances of avoiding an accident involving a distracted or inattentive driver is to drive defensively. Be cautious, leave plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front of you, and when in doubt make the choice that reduces your risk as much as possible.
DON’T: Get Complacent Until You’ve Parked
In this same vein, it is important to remain vigilant until you have reached your final destination. Especially during the holiday season, parking lot accidents are a very real concern for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Watch out for other vehicles’ reverse lights, be wary of drivers who are looking for open spots and not paying attention to their immediate surroundings, and always observe signage and road markings that dictate the flow of traffic.
DO: Stay Calm
In heavy traffic and when dealing with aggressive drivers, it is important to stay calm. If you are the type to get frustrated or angry when someone cuts you off or violates the rules of the road, make sure you do not let your emotions take control. When you have been traveling for hours or dealing with heavy holiday traffic, it can be easy to react negatively to negative situations. But, when just one mistake can lead to a lifetime of consequences, it is essential to stay calm behind the wheel.
DON’T: Let an Accident Ruin Your Holiday Season
Finally, if you are injured in a collision, the accident does not have to ruin your holiday season. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your repair and medical bills and other losses, and at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we handle all aspects of our clients’ claims so that they can get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible. We want you to have a safe and happy holiday season, and if you are forced to deal with the consequences of someone else’s negligence, we will fight aggressively to seek the compensation that you deserve.
Speak with a Tampa, FL Car Accident Lawyer Today
Abrahamson & Uiterwyk is a personal injury law firm with offices in Tampa and Clearwater that provides experienced legal representation for accident victims and their families. To find out if you have a claim, call (800) 753-5203, start a Live Chat, or contact us online for a free consultation today.