The holidays can be a magical time of the year. However, increased tourism and roads packed with travelers headed home for the holidays can cause seasonal headaches. Christmas to New Year can be a dangerous time for both drivers and pedestrians, as accidents are on the rise due in part to impaired drivers. What can you do to protect yourself and your family during the holiday rush? Here are a few tips to keep in mind over the next few weeks especially.
Don’t Drink and Drive
The number one rule this and every holiday season is to drink responsibly. During a recent legislative session, New York State Police told lawmakers they responded to over 7,000 alcohol-related crashes in a single year. Those crashes resulted in 335 deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there is an increase in impaired driving accidents during the Christmas and New Year period, meaning the holiday season is a dangerous time for New Yorkers. However, you can proactively protect yourself and others this holiday season by:
- Designating a Sober Driver – If you plan on hitting the eggnog at the next holiday get-together, designate a sober driver to help you get home safe. If you’re staying in the city, consider taking advantage of New York’s public transit system. There is no excuse for driving while impaired. Carpool with a sober friend, take the subway, walk, or call a ridesharing service or taxi. Some local businesses even sponsor free, sober rides home for those who have a little too much to drink and need a safe way to get home.
- Making a plan – Before you break out the bubbly this holiday season, plan accordingly. Ask a friend or family member if you can stay over. That way, you don’t have to arrange transportation to get home at the end of the night. Are you celebrating the season at an office party? Many are held at hotel ballrooms or conference centers. Treat yourself and book a room for the night. You get to celebrate, drink, and have a holiday getaway without putting yourself or others at risk.
- Watching for signs of impaired driving – You can take all the precautions in the world and still find yourself on the wrong side of a drunk driving accident. Stay alert when traveling for the holidays, and watch for the signs of potentially impaired drivers on New York roadways. Impaired drivers tend to drive erratically, tailgate, and weave in and out of lanes. If you spot a driver you suspect may be impaired, give them plenty of space, then report it to local law enforcement when it’s safe to do so.
Winter Weather Safety
Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Well, even if you’re not, you might get one anyway! While snow can make the holiday season feel magical, it can also snarl holiday travel and create hazardous road conditions. What can you do to prepare for winter weather this season? Keep these holiday driving safety tips in mind:
- Check the weather – The holiday season is a busy time for travel. Everyone wants to make it home to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. Always check the weather and road conditions before embarking on a holiday trip. If conditions are rough, adjust your plans accordingly. Remember, your friends and family want to welcome you into their home, not visit you in a hospital bed. Check 511NY for real-time road and traffic conditions as well as weather alerts.
- Be ready for anything – Sometimes, the unexpected happens, and you get stuck in frightening winter weather. Remain calm, pull over to a safe location, and wait it out. You can prep ahead by always keeping a well-stocked emergency supply kit in your vehicle. An emergency roadside kit should include items like a blanket or extra jackets, a first aid kit, an ice scrapper, spare phone chargers, a spare tire, a car jack, a flashlight, snow chains, jumper cables, water, non-perishable snacks, and emergency lights or signals.
- Check your car – Before hitting the road for the holidays, ensure your vehicle is in good repair. Check the tires, fluid levels, and windshield wiper blades before you leave on a holiday road trip.
How to Drive in Winter Weather
Driving in snow and ice is very different from driving in ideal conditions. You need a steady hand and calm nerves to navigate icy roadways safely in New York. Prepare ahead of time by swapping out your warm-weather tires for snow tires. While on the road, always maintain a safe speed for the present road conditions. Reduce your speed if the roads are snow-packed or covered in ice.
Ice also reduces your traction. Apply the brakes slowly and steadily when you need to slow down or stop. Since it takes longer for a vehicle to come to a complete stop on ice and snow, maintain a safe distance from other motorists. Never slam on your brakes. Try tapping them gently to help avoid fishtailing or losing control of your vehicle. Panicking and overcorrecting when you feel yourself “slip” on the ice can lead to an accident. Try to remain calm and ease off the brakes. Carefully turn your steering wheel and focus on a target where you want your vehicle to go to keep yourself from accidentally jerking the wheel and overcorrecting in a panic.
Holiday Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Road safety doesn’t end when you get out of your car, and there are some safety tips you should keep in mind when you’re on foot, too. Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert. Be aware of the signs of impaired drivers, especially when crossing the street. Look both ways before entering a crosswalk, even if you have the right of way or are crossing a one-way street. Impaired drivers often ignore or don’t see traffic signs and signals.
If you choose to walk during inclement winter weather, prepare yourself. Wear lawyers, a warm jacket, and proper footwear. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic head injury in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You need sturdy footwear that can provide plenty of traction when streets and walkways get snow-packed and icy.
Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney Now
Hurt by a careless motorist? Don’t wait until the holiday season ends to get the help you need. The legal team at Finz & Finz, P.C. is ready to fight for you no matter the time of year. Contact our New York office today to arrange a free legal consultation.