When combined with the four most dangerous driving behaviors, low visibility and snowy roads can create precarious driving situations during the holiday season.
Driving when you’re tired, impaired or distracted is always dangerous – but add low visibility, the potential for ice and snow and the pressures that come with the holiday season, and December just might be one of the most dangerous months to be on the road. This year, avoid these four most dangerous holiday driving hazards.
“When accompanied by poor road conditions, these four dangerous behind-the-wheel behaviors combine into a perfect storm of risk for drivers,” explained driver safety expert Doug Horn, who founded driving safety program "Drive by Example."
The four most dangerous holiday driving hazards include:
1. Distracted Driving. “This includes driving while using cell phones for both talking and texting holiday messages to friends, coworkers and family,” Horn said. “It also includes driving while checking out store hours and locations using a smartphone to surf the web.”
2. Impaired Driving. “Year-end dinners, parties and celebrations typically involve consumption of alcohol, and in too many cases, use of drugs,” said Horn. “An increase in the number of impaired drivers using the roadways during the winter holidays has been well-established by law enforcement, and the loss of life resulting from impaired driving is also well-established.”
3. Pressured Driving. “The winter holidays typically bring with them increased pressures, especially financial pressures and the stress created by trying to do too much in a short time span. Drivers often react to these pressures by driving too fast for conditions, making aggressive lane changes, failing to yield right-of-way, and generally disregarding the needs and safety of others using the road,” Horn stressed.
4. Fatigued Driving. “Increased demands and activities during the winter holidays often mean significantly reduced sleep schedules,” Horn added. “According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who slept 6-7 hours a night were twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.”
Horn added that it’s not uncommon for a single driver to manifest all four dangerous driving behaviors at the same time, especially in the final 10 days of the year.
So this holiday season, take this list and check it twice – and stay safe out there.