Thanksgiving is nearly here, and our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday! Having represented injured victims and families throughout the DC Metro area for over 45 years, we know the seasonal trends when it comes to personal injury, including when there are greater risks for certain types of accidents. This is often the case with car accidents and holidays – and especially Thanksgiving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Thanksgiving is the deadliest holiday on our roads.
With more traffic congestion, out-of-town motorists unfamiliar with local roads, and an increase in drunk drivers, among other dangers, roadway risks increase substantially during Thanksgiving and even the days surrounding the holiday. If your holiday plans involve hitting the road to spend time with friends or family, safety should always be your top priority.
To help you stay safe, we’ve compiled a list of the six main causes of car accidents, as well as how to avoid them:
- Rolling right turn on red – Failing to stop at a red light before making a right turn is a leading cause of accidents. Because drivers who roll past stoplights when making a right also enter crosswalks when their attention is focused on approaching vehicle traffic, it is also a common cause of pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Rolling right turns on red are a form of risky multi-tasking that should always be avoided, not only because you need to ensure the coast is clear on both sides before turning, but also because the law requires you to come to a full stop.
- Driving fatigued – Studies have confirmed driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, and that missing even only a few hours of sleep can result in crash risks equivalent to driving over the legal limit. During the holidays, especially if you need to make longer drive to attend festivities, there are real risks for drowsy driving. As such, make sure you get enough rest before setting out on the road, or make plans to switch off with another driver if necessary.
- Loss of control – It may be difficult to believe losing control of the vehicle is one of the most common causes of car wrecks, but it can and does happen in a variety of ways. This is especially true when drivers are speeding, take turns or sharp curves too fast, fail to reduce speed in poor weather, or overreact and overcompensate when surprises arise, including unexpected turns or turnoffs. To ensure you are always in control of your vehicle, and that you have the ability to react safely in surprise situations, be sure to always travel at a safe speed, reduce speeds for turns or when exits approach, and avoid distractions while driving.
- Pulling out blind – Many drivers are guilty of pulling out into traffic or making a maneuver when they are not 100% sure the coast is clear. Unfortunately, this is what accounts for roughly 12 percent of crashes. Common scenarios include turning left at intersections when other vehicles are blocking the view of oncoming traffic, pulling out from parking lots or driveways too suddenly when the view is occluded by vehicles or parked cars, and even traveling too fast without knowing when a roadway will end. Protect yourself and others by always making the conscious decision to look both ways, anticipate traffic, and never pull out or commit to higher speeds when you are not absolutely sure it is safe to do so.
- Rear-end collisions – Rear-end collisions account for nearly 30 percent of all traffic collisions, and they are often avoidable. According to statistics, most rear-end wrecks result from drivers who are in a hurry, drive too fast in stop-and-go traffic, follow too closely, or prioritize distractions such as cell phones when they should be paying attention to what’s in front of them. During Thanksgiving and other holidays, when traffic increases substantially, you can reduce risks of rear-end collisions by traveling at safe speeds (especially when traffic is congested), providing enough distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you, signaling your intent to turn or change lanes, and always avoiding distractions.
- Lane departure – Traveling within your lane is one of your main obligations as a driver. With roughly a third of accidents involving lane or road departures, however, it is clear far too many people fail in some way to remain safely within the lines. According to research, distractions and multi-tasking are the biggest culprit when it comes to lane departures and swerving. Not only should you avoid obvious distractions like cell phones and texting, you should also always be aware of keeping your attention on the road when it may be wandering to other roadside crashes, billboards, or even day dreams.
While prioritizing safety on the roads this Thanksgiving and holiday weekend can help protect you and others around you from increased roadway risks – and help you make it safely to your holiday festivities – our legal team knows that even the most cautious and contentious drivers can fall victim to negligence. This includes the negligence of other drivers who disobey traffic laws, drive drunk or impaired, drive too fast in congested traffic, or otherwise fail to safely operate their vehicles. When preventable accidents happen, our firm is available to help victims take the next steps in protecting their rights.
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. wishes you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. If you wish to discuss a recent accident at any time, we are readily available to help. Contact us for a free consultation.