Why Do Road Traffic Accidents Increase During The Festive Period?

Issue 96

Christmas is, for many, the best possible time of the year. It's an excuse to assemble with friends and family, and to make merry with acquaintances old and new. But it's also a time of year that necessitates a lot of stress, and much of this stress stems from the travel involved.

Aside from being inherently bothersome, road travel during winter also presents a few safety concerns. The sad fact is that road fatalities spike during the run-up to Christmas, which is why road safety campaigners focus so much of their advertising spend on December.

But what is driving this trend? Why is it that we’re more likely to run into traffic problems at this time of year?

Increased traffic volume

Christmas means that many people are travelling at the same time, which increases the density of traffic, and therefore the accident rate. The more cars on the road, the more likely those cars are to collide with one another. In single-lane rural roads, this is a bigger problem, since they’re often not designed to cope with a surge in vehicles.

If you’re renting a car at this time, you’ll want to make sure that you’re appropriately covered. This is where temporary car insurance can be worthwhile to protect you on long commutes to see family and friends or if you’re hiring a car to get around in on a Christmas getaway.

Adverse weather

Travelling in winter invariably means dealing with cold weather, and the precipitation that goes with it. Rain, snow and ice will all affect your grip to varying degrees, which is why slippery surfaces lead to road accidents. You can deal with this by making sure that your tyres are adequately inflated, and that the tread depth is sufficient. You might also consider winter tyres, which are manufactured to cope with these stresses.

You’ll also want to adapt your driving style to reduce the risk of a collision.

Driver fatigue

Driving long distances can make you feel tired, even if you’re well-rested. Your reaction times will begin to slow, and you’ll struggle to spot hazards and to concentrate. For this reason, it’s important to take regular breaks during your trip.

Driver impairment or other distractions

Alcohol and Christmas are almost inseparable. A minority of drinkers will get behind the wheel of a car, which naturally drives up the danger to everyone on the road. While you can have a drink and still be under the limit, there’s no minimum threshold at which you’ll be unaffected.

We should also mention the distraction caused by other passengers, and by the general feeling of good cheer. Keep your focus and concentration, and try to tell everyone else in the car to stop distracting you!

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