Every year during the holiday season, millions of drivers take to the nation’s roads to attend family gatherings and Christmas festivities. Unfortunately, more cars on the road means there is a higher risk of accidents. Statistics have linked the higher traffic volume during the holidays with an increase in auto accidents and fatalities, caused by the combined factors of congestion, tiredness, risky driving behaviors, and higher-than-usual alcohol consumption.
According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers are involved in considerably more accidents during the last three months of the year. Thanksgiving stands out as an especially dangerous day, with 764 crashes involving a fatality and nearly 50,000 non-fatal car accidents during 2012 alone. During Christmas, an average of 45 alcohol-related fatalities occur each day and soar up to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday. Flooded roadways are especially treacherous for young drivers and people driving in unfamiliar environments.
In many cases, simple safety precautions can significantly decrease the risk of accidents during the holiday season. Below, we’ve put together some tips to help reduce your risk of getting into a car accident and reach your destination safely.
Tips to Increase Your Safety during the Holiday Driving Season
Adjust your seat. Positioning yourself correctly in your car seat will provide control and comfort while driving, decreasing your chances of getting hurt on the road and improving safety should an accident occur.
Start by adjusting the car seat to position yourself as low down and far back as possible. Continue by raising the seat height until you have a clear view above the steering wheel and through the front windshield and move it forward so you can comfortably reach the pedals. The backrest should hold your head in a neutral position, while the back of the seat should match the curve of your lower back. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows to be able to turn the steering wheel properly.
Prepare your car. Wet or icy roads are the cause of many accidents during the holiday season, so it’s very important to make sure your car is properly equipped for the long drive ahead of you. Check your tire pressure and consider switching to snow tires for adverse weather conditions. A winter accident can leave you stuck on the road, so make sure to keep an emergency kit containing flashlights or flares, an ice scraper, and extra bottles of engine oil, coolants, and washer fluid inside your car. Bring along extra clothes and even a blanket in case your heating breaks down.
Also, make sure all your belongings are securely stored. In the eventuality of a sudden stop or car crash, even small objects can become potentially deadly.
Buckle up. According to the CDC, a simple safety precaution such as wearing your seatbelt can decrease your risk of dying in a car accident by 50%. Make sure your passengers are also protected. Properly restraining children into child safety seats can reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages 1-4.
Keep your cool. Aside from being dangerous, holiday driving can be very frustrating due to congested roads, slow drivers, and increment weather. Try to stay in control by avoiding the fast lane and giving yourself plenty of space between you and other drivers. Intoxicated or distracted drivers can make erratic moves or fail to follow the rules of the road, so it’s best to expect the unexpected and arm yourself with patience.
Also, getting a good night’s sleep before starting your journey can increase your reaction time and help you stay alert and comfortable at all times.
Plan ahead. Check information about road conditions before you head out to make sure you avoid congested roads and traffic jams. Take regular breaks every 1-2 hours to stretch, eat, or check your phone. Most importantly, identify not the fastest, but the safest, route to your destination: it’s better to get to your destination later than to not get there at all.
In Case of Accident, Seek Proper Treatment to Avoid Future Complications
If, despite all precautions, you are involved in a car accident, seeking treatment right away is essential in preventing serious pain complications. Even a seemingly minor car accident like a fender-bender at 5mph can result in serious damage to your musculoskeletal system, potentially leaving you with chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, and a host of other problems.
A trained chiropractor can diagnose and treat a wide range of traumatic injuries, including whiplash and others that are caused by a car accident. Through a series of customized non-surgical, drug-free procedures, your chiropractor can treat the root cause of your pain and help you return to living an active life as soon as possible.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.