’Tis the Season to Drive Safely
By Zachary Mushkatel on December 10, 2015
As attorneys who work closely with the victims of car accidents in Phoenix and throughout Arizona, we urge drivers to be safe this holiday season. After all, this should be a time for celebration with family and friends and not a time to be dealing with the serious and often tragic consequences of an auto accident.
Holiday Crash Statistics in Arizona
Unfortunately, as traffic crash figures show, the period surrounding the upcoming holidays can be a dangerous time to be on our roads. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT), 12 fatal crashes occur each year, on average, during the winter holidays. It may come as no surprise that one of the leading causes of these crashes at both a national and state level is drinking and driving. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, for instance, reports that alcohol-related traffic crashes in the U.S. increase threefold during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Also, during the holiday season, 40 percent of auto accident fatalities involve a drunk driver (in contrast to a 31 percent figure during other times of the year), according to the NIAAA. In Arizona, DOT statistics show, those figures are even higher: 64 percent of traffic fatalities are alcohol-related during Christmas and New Year’s. However, many other risks can arise during the holiday season in addition to drinking and driving. We can all take steps to avoid these risks.
Tips for Safe Driving During the Holidays
The following are a few reminders about what we can each do to enhance our safety on the road during the holidays:
Never drink and drive.
Don’t fool yourself – “buzzed” driving is drunk driving. If you consume any amount of alcohol at a holiday office party, family gathering or outing with friends, don’t get behind the wheel. Don’t ride with a drinking driver, either. Driving drunk can have serious consequences, if you get caught you will be required to take a breathalyzer test and if you blow over the legal limit may be arrested and charged with a DUI. Even if you are not caught you run the serious risk of causing an accident which could lead to vehicle damage, injury to yourself, your passengers or other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and pedestrians.
You can find plenty of safe alternatives, including:
- Using a sober, designated driver.
- Calling a taxi. (See Yelp’s list of top cab services in the Phoenix area.)
- Using public transportation such as Valley Metro.
Walking home intoxicated is not a safe alternative to drinking and driving. Numerous Arizona Pedestrian Accident occur during the holidays as well. The same impairment of your motor skills and judgment that makes drunk driving dangerous makes walking while intoxicated dangerous as well.
During the holidays, you may be in a rush to get to a religious service, gathering or other event on time. You may be hurrying to get through last-minute shopping as well. As pressed as you may be, resist the urge to speed. When you drive too fast, it can easily cause you to lose control of your car. It also reduces your ability to react and avoid crashes. Of course, the best way to reduce your chances of getting into a speed-related accident is to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
Keep a cool head.
The holidays can be a stressful time. It is crucial that you don’t allow your stress to influence the way you navigate through traffic. It could easily lead to dangerous, aggressive driving such as tailgating, racing to beat stop lights or even road-rage incidents. Check out this MayoClinic.com piece on how to manage holiday stress in a healthy way.
Don’t drive while drowsy.
If you are planning to visit out-of-town or out-of-state family or friends during the holidays, make sure you map out a safe trip. Don’t overextend yourself and try to drive too long of a distance at once. After all, the longer you are on the road, the more likely you are to drive while drowsy. Driving while impaired by fatigue can be just as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol. Break up you trip instead and give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going.
Put down your phone.
While you are out shopping for gifts, you may be tempted to call or text friends or family. But if you are driving, don’t use your phone. Driving when you’re distracted is simply dangerous – and especially so if you are trying to navigate through busy traffic on the highway or in congested areas near malls or other shopping centers.
Phoenix Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help
We hope these tips put you in the right frame of mind as we head into the thick of the holiday season. Please make driving safety a priority. Despite taking all the necessary precautions, however, you can never completely eliminate your risk of being injured by a driver who is not as reasonable and cautious as you. If you are involved in a car accident caused by another driver’s careless or reckless actions, please make sure to protect your rights and contact our team of experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.