The holiday season is well underway and if you are like most Americans, you are probably spending more time in your car now than you did all year. This time of year has unique demands like company holiday parties, family gatherings, altered school and work schedules, and the pressure to buy the perfect gift for everybody on your list. With these added hours on the road compounded by longer evening hours and colder temperatures, you can easily be involved in a car accident and suffer a serious injury.

Cut down your car accident risk by observing the following safety guidelines this winter. If you have a teenage son or daughter who drives, discuss these safety tips with him or her to help him or her avoid an accident.

Be Prepared for a Cold Weather Breakdown

Have a safety kit in the back of your car that contains a flashlight with extra batteries, a cell phone charger that you can use in the car, a warm blanket, fresh bottled water, and a tool kit. If you are stranded on the side of the road, these tools can come in handy by helping you identify and fix minor mechanical issues and keeping you hydrated and warm while waiting for help.

Know Before You Go – The Weather and Traffic Forecasts, That Is

Before you leave for a road trip, check the weather forecast for your current location as well as your destination and if conditions like snow, rain, or high winds are expected during the journey, plan your travel time around them. Leaving earlier to beat a storm or later to avoid it can make the difference between reaching your destination safely and being involved in an accident.

Check the traffic report too with Google Maps or another app, like Waze. This can help you plan your trip and avoid areas where road work and accidents have stalled traffic. Drivers in congested traffic tend to speed, weave in and out of the traffic, and make other risky moves that can lead to collisions. If you do end up stuck in traffic, remain calm and simply wait out the delay. There is nothing you can do once you are stuck in traffic, so do not put yourself or others at risk by attempting to speed or push your way through it.

Always Drive Energized and Alert

Shorter daylight hours, large, carbohydrate-heavy meals, and evenings spent attending functions, cooking big meals, and shopping can all make you exhausted. When you are feeling tired, do not drive. Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving drunk because when you are tired, your reaction time, perception, and judgment are all inhibited.

Before you drive, make sure you are well-rested. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour each night so you wake up refreshed and ready for the day. Eating protein-rich meals and consuming decaffeinated beverages can also keep you alert while you are on the road.

If you Plan to Drink, Plan to Not Drive

Every year, the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities spikes during the holiday season, particularly on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and on New Year’s Eve. If you plan to consume alcohol at a holiday party this season, consume responsibly. Know how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and your personal limit for consuming alcohol before becoming impaired. Do not simply assume your limits, either. Consider using a smartphone app to measure your blood alcohol concentration and use online charts to get a rough estimate of your BAC based on your weight, sex, and number of drinks consumed.

Better yet, abstain from alcohol completely if you plan to drive. If others at the party drink, volunteer to drive them home safely or, if you are hosting the party, offer your guests space to stay overnight. If you do celebrate with alcohol, catch a ride home with a designated driver, a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, or a taxi or form of public transportation. Do not risk being involved in an accident and potentially being arrested for DUI by driving drunk.

Work With an Experienced Charleston Car Accident Lawyer

Although you can take steps to reduce your chance of being injured in a car accident this year, there is always the chance that you will be involved in a collision and suffer an injury. If you are a car accident victim, seek medical attention for your injury as soon as you can after the accident. Then, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer about pursuing compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more about this process, schedule your consultation with a member of our team at Joye Law Firm.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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