The most dangerous time of the year for drivers

Is the winter holiday season really such a dangerous time for drivers?

There's a lot of cautionary tales on the news and common sense seems to indicate that there are a lot more cars on the roads -- Christmas shoppers, delivery drivers and people just visiting their relatives for family dinners make up a lot of the traffic. But what do the actual statistics say?

According to research conducted from 2011 to 2015, Christmas actually ranked seventh on the list of dangerous holidays for drivers -- at least when it came to fatalities. New Year's claimed the sixth spot on the list and Thanksgiving the fifth spot.

Memorial Day claim the top spot and Labor day the second when it comes to fatal car accidents. The third slot belongs to July 4th and the fourth position to Easter.

On the surface, that makes it seem like the worrywarts were just worrying too much about the roads during the holiday season -- until you remember that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day are all grouped relatively close together and make up most of the "holiday season." The rest of the dates are somewhat spread out.

So, yes, there's good reason to be concerned for your safety if you're on the road during the holiday season. However, it isn't panic-worthy enough that it should keep you at home.

The same study revealed some more information that you might find useful (or interesting):

  • On normal 3-day stretches, fatalities related to motor vehicles tend to be concentrated on a stretch in the northeast between Washington D.C. through Philadelphia.
  • On the 3-day period around each holiday in the study, fatalities started to spread out. Your likelihood of being in an accident increases even in far-flung areas.
  • Your risk of having an accident related to drunk driving goes up no matter what holiday it is. Christmas tends to be the most restrained and Memorial Day the least -- but the overall risk is higher throughout the winter holiday season.

You can use these facts to keep the hoopla about the holiday roads into perspective -- knowing that there is an increased risk that you'll end up in a motor vehicle accident, but it isn't quite as bad as the media makes it seem. Exercise defense driving and be cautious -- but get out there and enjoy the holidays!

Source: Value Penguin, "Which Holiday Weekends are Most Dangerous for Drivers?," Craig Casazza, accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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