Does the Holiday Season Cause More Car Accidents?

As the holiday season approaches, Mississippi’s roads buzz with activity, raising an important question: does this festive time lead to more car accidents? With families traveling and celebrations in full swing, understanding the impact on road safety becomes crucial. 

The Statistics – A Look at the Numbers

During the holiday season, the number of car accidents typically sees a noticeable uptick. National data reveals that this period, especially around major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, experiences a higher incidence of road mishaps compared to non-holiday times. In Mississippi, the trend mirrors this national pattern. Factors like increased travel volume, celebratory gatherings, and sometimes challenging winter road conditions contribute to this rise. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted a significant spike in accidents involving impaired driving during past holiday seasons. Between 2017-2021, over 32,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes during November and December, according to the U.S. News and World Report. These statistics serve as a stark reminder of the heightened risks on the roads during these festive but potentially hazardous times.

Why Do Accidents Increase During the Holidays?

The spike in car accidents during the holiday season can be attributed to several factors. First, there’s a substantial increase in traffic volume as people travel for family gatherings and holiday shopping. Highways and local roads in Mississippi become more congested, elevating the likelihood of collisions. Secondly, holiday festivities often involve alcohol consumption, leading to a rise in impaired driving incidents. The festive spirit can sometimes result in drivers making poor decisions, such as getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Additionally, the winter weather plays a significant role. Even in Mississippi, where severe winter conditions are less common, drivers may encounter unexpected fog, rain, or icy patches, especially in the northern parts of the state. These conditions can be challenging for even the most experienced drivers, increasing the risk of accidents. These factors combine to make the holiday season a particularly risky time for drivers.

Staying Safe on the Road – Tips for Holiday Driving

To ensure safety while driving during the holiday season, consider these tips:

  • Plan Your Route: Expect heavier traffic and plan accordingly. Check traffic reports and weather forecasts. Choose less congested routes when possible.
  • Avoid Peak Travel Times: If you can, travel during off-peak hours to avoid the rush.
  • Stay Alert and Sober: Fatigue and alcohol are significant contributors to holiday accidents. Ensure you’re well-rested before long drives and never drink and drive.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Ensure your car is in good condition. Check your brakes, tires, lights, and battery. In areas prone to winter weather, ensure your vehicle is winter-ready.
  • Keep a Safe Distance: Maintain a generous following distance, giving you more time to react.
  • Be Prepared for Emergencies: Carry a roadside emergency kit, including items like blankets, water, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit.
  • Stay Calm: Holiday driving can be stressful. Keep a cool head and be patient to ensure a safe journey for yourself and others.

What to Do If You’re Involved in an Accident

If you find yourself involved in a car accident during the holidays, taking the right steps is crucial. First, ensure your safety and that of others by moving to a safe location if possible. Then, call emergency services immediately, especially if there are injuries. Even in minor accidents, it’s important to report the incident to the police for an official record. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver but avoid discussing fault at the scene. 

Document the accident by taking photos of the vehicles, road conditions, and any relevant landmarks. Seek medical attention, even if injuries seem minor, as some symptoms can appear later. Finally, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney to understand your rights and options, particularly if the accident was not your fault. 

Get Help If You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident

As we navigate the joys and challenges of the holiday season, staying safe on the road is paramount. If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a car accident, our experienced team at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman is here to guide you through the legal process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for professional advice and assistance tailored to your unique circumstances.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.