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Holiday Rush Increases Danger on the Road

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Posted on December 23, 2013

that people should be wary of more than just being able to weave their way through the crowds to find a gift.

Researchers at the UA Center for Advanced Public Safety, who analyzed 10 years of Alabama crash data, found that the days just before Christmas can be a more dangerous time to drive than the days surrounding Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

UA researchers found heavy traffic surrounding all three major holidays can increase the chances for automobile accidents. However, in 2012, the six-day period that includes Christmas had 18% more auto accidents than the Thanksgiving period and 27 % more than the days around New Year’s Day.

The main cause for the increase in accidents was heavy traffic. In fact, the actual holidays are generally a safer time to travel than the period leading up to them since there is less traffic, according to the crash data.

Dr. David Brown, a professor of computer science at UA and a research associate with CAPS, explains that the best preventative measure is to avoid late night hours and days in which many people are on the roads.

It is also important to adhere to the following safety tips to avoid a collision:

  • Do not drink and drive or ride as a passenger with someone who has been drinking.
  • Always use your safety restraints, and make sure that everyone in the car uses theirs.
  • Drive with the flow of traffic, and do not exceed the speed limit. A 10-mph reduction in speed doubles your chances of surviving a crash.
  • Don’t use cell phone or other devices that can distract you from driving.
  • Avoid the pre-Christmas rush, especially after dark.
  • Avoid being out in inclement weather. Weather has a great impact on crashes in general, although they tend to be of lower severity.


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