Holidays are common times for serious and fatal accidents in Texas. If you were the victim of an accident during a holiday, you may be able to collect money for your injuries. An attorney can investigate the details of the accident, work with the insurance company to determine liability and handle all the other hard work involved in a car accident claim. This guide will cover some common holiday risks, tips for reducing them and what to do if you are injured in a holiday auto accident in Texas.
Most Dangerous Holidays for Driving in Texas
According to data collected and reported by the National Safety Council, the holiday with the highest average number of fatalities in the United States between 1996 and 2020 was Labor Day. The Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and Christmas followed it. When it comes to the winter holiday season, Texas ranks in the top five states for the highest number of fatal car accidents around Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Common Causes of Holiday Car Accidents
In Texas and throughout other parts of the United States, there are several common contributing factors when it comes to holiday accidents on the roads. By understanding the risks, you can be better prepared to keep yourself and any passengers safer.
Many people travel to other cities or states during the holidays. If they are unfamiliar with the roads, they may be panicked or confused. Road construction signs in unfamiliar areas can be especially confusing to drivers, and they may make a mistake if they misinterpret a sign.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of roadway accidents in the United States, and it is one of the most preventable causes. Holiday drivers can make dangerous and sudden moves when they are distracted. For example, they may veer over the center line or make an improper lane change suddenly as they try to look at a map while driving.
More Roadway Congestion
On and around major holidays, there are more vehicles on the roads. Also, the population in Texas is growing, and traffic safety experts in the state say that the growth is a contributing factor to roadway congestion and more fatal crashes on holidays. There are also more RVs, vehicles pulling trailers and other larger vehicles on the road. All these combined hazards can lead to more accidents.
Poor Driving Conditions
Rain or dust storms can reduce visibility, and rain can make roads slick. In areas where it snows or freezes during the winter holidays, roads may also be icy. Weather-related accidents are more common during the winter holidays in parts of Texas that are prone to freezing temperatures and more precipitation. Also, traffic safety experts from the Department of Transportation say that the shorter days during the colder months reduce visibility and contribute to a spike in accidents.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Vehicles that are not maintained properly can break down and create roadside hazards. Many people do not know what to do in the event of a breakdown, and unsafe actions can cause multiple other accidents.
Alcohol-related accidents are especially common during the summer holidays. However, they are also common close to New Year’s. People often let loose and drink more when they visit friends or family during the holidays, which means there is a higher risk of drunk driving accidents. This is especially a problem in Texas. In comparison with data from other states, holiday accidents in the Lone Star State are more likely to include impaired or drunk drivers. Between 2015 and 2019, more than 44% of fatal car accidents involved drivers who were above the legal limit allowed by Texas law. The legal limit is .08% BAC.
Ways To Avoid Auto Accidents During the Holiday Season
Before traveling, it is important to create a safety strategy. These tips may help reduce your holiday accident risks.
Plan Ahead for Traveling
Poor planning can lead to overlooked car problems, anxiety and fatigue. Each of these factors can increase accident risks. Also, last-minute planning can make the trip more stressful and less enjoyable for everyone. By planning everything in advance, it is possible to address multiple risks. Be sure to complete these steps as far in advance as possible.
Step 1: Consider Vehicle Maintenance
This is especially important for longer road trips. However, even shorter trips can become dangerous with a vehicle that needs maintenance. One of the reasons why vehicle maintenance should be the first issue on the list is because it can take time to get an appointment or wait for some repairs. Also, some auto parts stores may be out of parts and may need to order more. Be sure that any safety recalls are addressed before taking a long trip. If the car is due for specific types of maintenance based on its current mileage, have that work completed before traveling if possible. These are a few points to add to any vehicle maintenance checklist:
Check wiper blades to see if they need to be replaced.
Make sure the tires are in good condition.
Check all the fluid levels in the vehicle.
Step 2: Learn the Driving Route
Map apps and GPS devices can still lead people astray today. Even if they do their job accurately, it helps to know the route in advance. Check to see if there are areas that will have construction, road closures or detours. Spend some time going over the planned route to map out potential stops as well. Although some unplanned stops may be inevitable while traveling with small children, it helps reduce stress to have a plan and be a little more familiar with the route.
Step 3: Watch the Weather
Since weather forecasts can change quickly, monitor them every day the week before traveling. This is especially important for longer trips through one or more states. During the winter holidays, it may be necessary to alter the traveling dates by a day or two to avoid a winter storm. Watching the weather and learning the route to identify potential delays can help reduce the dangers associated with rushing by allowing enough time to travel safely.
Always be ready to react if another driver makes a mistake or a sudden move. When driving during the holidays, it helps to assume that other drivers may be distracted or unfamiliar with the area.
Anything that takes your eyes off the road can be a distraction. If you are traveling with other passengers, ask someone else to look at maps or answer important calls and texts if necessary. Avoid using your phone, eating or doing anything else that takes your hands off the wheel. When you have a hand off the wheel or your eyes off the road, you are less likely to be able to react quickly.
Get Enough Sleep
Be sure to allow plenty of time for sleep before your trip. When you do not get enough sleep, you are less alert and may make mistakes. For instance, you may miss an important exit, misread a sign or do something else potentially dangerous that you may not otherwise do.
If you are taking a trip that is more than a few hours, be sure to allow time for breaks. Get out, stretch, walk and drink water to stay hydrated. If you are traveling with other adults, it may also help to let them take turns driving.
Follow the Speed Limit
Law enforcement agencies in many areas give out more speeding tickets during the holidays. Poor planning, impatience and other factors cause people to drive faster than they should. While it can be tempting to get to your destination quicker, exceeding the speed limit even by less than 10 mph can increase the chance of an accident. Also, accidents at higher speeds often come with more severe injuries.
Do Not Drive After Drinking
Even if you feel like you can drive safely, do not take the risk. People tend to drink more during the holidays, and it can be difficult to tell when you have had too much to drive. If you are meeting friends somewhere for a drink, make sure you have a designated sober driver or can call for a ride. The cost of a taxi or rideshare service is much less expensive than all the costs resulting from a DUI or an accident.
Wait Out Storms
Even with proper planning, there may still be weather-related delays along the way. Whether you are taking a long or short trip, wait until the weather or highway conditions improve before you get back on the road. The risk of a serious accident is not worth driving in dangerous conditions.
What To Do After a Holiday Vehicle Accident
If you are involved in a holiday accident in Texas, it is important to take the following steps:
Call 911 or notify law enforcement immediately.
If your vehicle is in the middle of traffic, try to move it to the side of the road to avoid further danger.
Exchange insurance information with other involved parties.
Take photos or videos of the damage and scene if possible, and make note of any people who are witnesses.
Seek medical attention immediately after the accident.
Contact your insurance company to report the accident.
Call a personal injury attorney as soon as you can.
Why You Need a Car Accident Attorney
If you are the victim of an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, an attorney may help you recover compensation for your injuries. The attorney handles all correspondence with other parties, investigates the accident to determine liability and ensures that you see the most favorable outcome for your case. Whether it involves an out-of-court settlement or a trial, your lawyer works hard to fight for a fair amount based on the severity of your injuries.
Insurance companies often undervalue claims and do not pay victims enough for all their injuries if they do not have a lawyer helping them. According to Texas law, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim is two years after the date of the accident. This is another reason why it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Injury cases take time to settle, which is why it helps to start the process sooner. Haney Paschal & Romoser is a full-service law firm that is dedicated to helping people in their time of need. The attorneys handle several types of personal injury cases and have more than three decades of combined experience.
Even if you believe that you have partial liability for an auto accident in Texas, you may still be entitled to some compensation. According to Texas law, modified comparative fault rules allow people who are not more than 50% at fault to try to collect compensation. For a free evaluation, please contact our office to discuss the details of your case with a personal injury attorney.