While the Holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is supposed to be a joyful and relaxing time for family, driving typically leaves behind a devastating toll of injury and death on the nation’s highways. The numbers vary from year to year, but on average, more than 343 people die in traffic deaths each year during the three-day Christmas holiday period alone.
If you’re thinking of heading to grandmother’s house for the holidays, you should be aware that three of the most dangerous roads in the country pass through Texas, including San Antonio.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who analyzed the data from more than 2,700 fatal car accidents occurring between Thanksgiving and Christmas between 2015 and 2018, in order to find which roads are the deadliest during the holiday season.
The deadliest road in the country is Interstate 10, which runs from California to Florida and runs through San Antonio and Houston in the state of Texas. The fourth deadliest is I-35, which runs from Texas to Minnesota. It runs through Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. In the number 5 slot is I-20, which runs from Texas to South Carolina. That highway runs through Dallas.
More specifically, the NHTSA considers El Paso County the most dangerous area for anyone traveling via I-10 on Thanksgiving, while they consider Harris County to be the third most deadly for Thanksgiving and the second-most deadly for Christmas travel. According to their data, though I-10 covers the entire country, west to east, the fact of the matter is, El Paso County in Texas and East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana account for about a quarter of all I-10 traffic fatalities for Thanksgiving travel.
Why Are These Roads So Dangerous?
Obviously, much of the reason these highways are so deadly has to do with traffic volume, but the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) notes that drunk driving is also a major factor during the traffic volume along these highways likely has a big impact on the high number of deaths, but drunk driving is also a factor, with one of every three fatal traffic accidents during the holidays involving an inebriated driver.
B3sides not choosing to drive drunk, most of the factors leading to auto accidents during the Holidays are preventable, according to safety experts. What you choose to do or don’t do can often mean the difference between getting there safely or you or a loved one being seriously injured or killed. According to NHTSA, more than 90 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by human error. Therefore, taking some basic steps before you travel during the Christmas season can make a big difference. Here are some tips for staying safe when driving during the Christmas season.
How to Avoid Crashes During the Holidays
Preventive Vehicle Maintenance
Before taking off for holiday driving, make sure you have your vehicle properly serviced. In addition to consulting your owner’s manual to have regular services performed at prescribed mileage and time intervals, it is advised by safety experts that the battery be checked to make sure it’s at full power and that all terminals are clean. In addition, be sure to check the tires to make sure they have the proper tread and to make sure there are no bulges. Have the mechanic check the brake pads to make sure they are in good shape and don’t have to be replaced.
Always Get Plenty of Rest and Be Ready To Drive
Drowsy driving is one of the most common factors in deadly accidents; according to the NHTSA, drowsy driving is cited in one of every five fatal crashes and the numbers increase every year. That’s because driving while exhausted is a recipe for disaster, almost as dangerous as driving drunk. Before you set out on a drive, be sure to get a good night’s sleep. If possible, be sure to have an alert adult passenger in the car at all times, and have them look out for road hazards and suggest a stop, a nap or a new driver. Take a break every two hours, even if it’s a short break at a rest stop to go to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee. Avoid heavy meals before taking a long drive, since too much fat or too many carbs can make you sleepy.
Avoid the Other “Ds” of Dangerous Driving
Besides drowsy driving, drinking, drugs, and distraction all increase the possibility of an accident. Alcohol and drugs get a lot of the press, but in recent years, distracted driving has become a major threat to everyone on the road, especially with the increased use of smartphones. According to the National Safety Council, one out of every four crashes involves the use of a cell phone.
Buckle Up, Front and Back
There is a sound reason why seatbelts are standard equipment in vehicles. Despite that, too many don’t use them, especially those who sit in the back. According to safety experts, only 78 percent of adult passengers use seatbelts while riding in the backseat, compared to 87 percent who use them in the front seat. The NHTSA reports that, in fatal crashes, only 60 percent were wearing seatbelts in the back and 74 percent in the front.