Every year, we warn our readers about the potential hazards they face when they travel by car for the holidays. Even though this year is like no other, the risk of being in a serious vehicle crash as you celebrate the holidays is still prevalent. In fact, it might be even more dangerous to travel in the winter of 2020 than it was in past years. Last April, at the height of the pandemic shut-down in Massachusetts, the rate of traffic fatalities actually doubled.
A similar situation could occur this winter. Unless you're prepared for the dangers on the roads this winter, you could be the victim of a crash that impacts your life for many years.
Driving Hazards That Could Be Amplified This Year
We might be planning smaller gatherings this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean we're necessarily going to stay home. In-state getaways, ski trips, shopping excursions, socially-distant visits to grandparents, and order pick-ups mean a lot of people will be out on the roads from now until New Year’s Day. The normal driving hazards we face each holiday season could certainly be worse due to factors caused by the pandemic. Potential risks include:
- Winter weather conditions. December and January snow and ice are nothing new in Massachusetts, but each year, drivers act as though they’ve never seen the stuff. Given that people are driving less on a day-to-day basis, safely maneuvering on icy roads could prove more challenging than ever this year.
- Drunk drivers. Many of us have joked about needing an extra glass of wine to get through these dark days, but when excessive drinking is combined with driving, it's a recipe for disaster. It wouldn't be surprising to see OUI rates skyrocket this holiday season. If you're traveling in the evening on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve, be wary of potential drunk drivers.
- Stressed-out drivers. In normal times, people get stressed out over the holidays. The pressures of the season can push people over the edge. While the pressure might be different this year, it's still here. Stressed-out motorists often drive aggressively, speed, and engage in road rage.
- Distractions. Whether drivers are distracted by their own thoughts, phone conversations with family members who can’t be with them this year, or excited passengers in their own car, the results are the same. Taking your focus off the task of driving for even a few seconds can cause a tragic accident.
- Fatigue. Stress, alcohol, long drives, and a lack of sleep can cause a person to doze off behind the wheel. Drowsy drivers act and react in similar ways to drunk drivers, making them just as dangerous to other travelers. Keep an eye out for slow-moving, swerving vehicles to avoid a potential crash with a fatigued driver.
We’ve all felt cooped up over these last few months, and it’s understandable that you want to get out of the house over the holidays. We just recommend keeping your guard up and being aware of negligent drivers.
What to Do After a Crash
All you were trying to do was give your loved ones a little extra holiday cheer. Whether it was a family road trip or a quick trip to the store, a crash instantly changed all of your plans. After calling the police and getting the medical care you and your passengers need, your next step should be to call an experienced Massachusetts car accident attorney. With everything you have on your plate right now—including recovering physically from your injuries—dealing with insurance companies shouldn't be one of them.
The personal injury team at Mahaney & Pappas would be happy to provide a free consultation about your potential accident claim and give you the peace of mind you deserve this holiday season. Fill out the form on this page or call our Framingham office to learn more.