Florida is a prime destination over the holidays. AAA reports that just over Thanksgiving, some 49 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more for the holiday, and more than 90 percent drove a car. Over the Christmas/ New Year’s Eve holidays, the same agency opines an estimated 100 million people will be making similar trips.
According to CarRentals.com, three of the top 10 cities for holiday car rentals (an indication of top destinations) are in Florida. No. 2 is Orlando – just behind Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Holiday road trips may be an annual tradition, but that doesn’t mean drivers should be complacent. There are a host of hazards that may confront drivers, and it’s important to be aware and be prepared.
The Florida Highway Patrol reports that over the Christmas/ New Year’s holiday, there were:
- 2013 – 8,859 crashes, 2,403 injuries, 74 fatalities
- 2014 – 9,581 crashes, 2,440 injuries, 97 fatalities
- 2015 – 10,291 crashes, 2,746 injuries, 112 fatalities
In Orange County during last year’s holiday, there were 711 crashes, 201 injuries and three deaths. Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward were the only counties in the state with more crashes.
It’s expected those figures will be even higher this year because gas prices have stayed low and incomes have continued to rise.
Troopers with the FHP reported anytime there is an influx of traffic, it increases the risk of an auto accident.
Some of the top concerns law enforcement officers have for safety include:
Speeding. Speed plays a contributing role in approximately one-third of all fatal traffic crashes. Although there is no concrete evidence that people speed more during the holidays, it is not difficult to see how drivers who are stressed or late – common scenarios during the holidays – would be more apt to speed.
Driver Fatigue. Most people see this as a long-haul truck driver problem. Certainly, it is. But it’s a big issue this time of year with those making long-distance trips to visit family and loved ones. This is especially true when people try to start long drives after work or overnight (sometimes with the hope the kids will stay asleep). Sleepiness and fatigue causes impaired reaction time, judgment and vision, as well as problems with information processing and increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors. It’s important for drivers to plan adequate rest breaks and give themselves plenty of time if they need to make unanticipated stops to rest.
Drunk Drivers. One might not typically think of Christmas as a “drinking holiday,” but Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports the number of DUI deaths go up by 24 percent over the Christmas holiday. On New Year’s Eve, the number of fatal drunk driving accidents goes up by 42 percent.
Teen Driving Accidents. The deadliest months for teens are typically June, July and August, because that’s when most of them are out of school and more often on the roads. But there is also a spike in teen driving accidents in December and January, when teens are off school for winter break. College students, too, may be home for the holidays, spending time catching up with old friends and may additionally pose a risk on the roads.
All of this is not to say that a crash is inevitable, but drivers have to be ready to face the risks and be willing to do what they can to reduce them.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Florida Highway Patrol Shares Tips For Safe Holiday Travel, Nov. 22, 2016, By Hayley Minogue, WKRG.com
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Small v. Sayre – Preserving Your Injury Lawsuit for Appeal, Dec. 3, 2016, Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Blog