How Dangerous is Driving on Christmas in Pennsylvania?

Christmas 2016 is just around the bend.  For millions of Americans, that means long drives on treacherous, icy roads that are crowded with holiday travelers, many of whom will be drowsy or intoxicated.  Philadelphia car accident lawyer Brent Wieand investigates some of the crash risk factors associated with holiday travel, including how many car accidents happen over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in Pennsylvania.

Factors That Increase Your Risk of Getting Into a Car Crash During the Holidays

The holidays bring joy and cheer, but they also bring a surge in accidents due to the huge increase in travel.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, long-distance travel (at least 50 miles) increases by 23% during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  The Saturday and Sunday before Christmas and Christmas Day are usually the heaviest traffic days during the December-January holiday break.

While car or truck accidents can certainly occur on short local trips, long-distance travel carries a greater risk for at least three reasons:

  1. The longer a person is on the road, the more vehicles they pass.  The more vehicles a driver passes, the more opportunities for collisions there are.
  2. Long-distance journeys increase the driver’s risk of getting tired, bored, or both.  Even a split-second lapse in attention where you’re drowsy or “zoning out” creates a large enough window for a crash to occur.
  3. For those who are traveling long-distance, their holiday journeys bring them to faraway towns they don’t normally visit.  That means long-distance drivers are, in many cases, quite unfamiliar with the roads they’re traveling, making the risk of a crash even greater.

Yet it isn’t just the huge volume of long-distance traffic that increases the risk of an accident.  Between excited kids, huge meals, and plenty of alcohol, many motorists are tired, intoxicated, distracted, or all three, further adding to the risk that a collision or drunk driving accident will occur.

The environment itself poses a risk as well.  Since Christmas is a winter holiday, the roads are often slick with patches of ice, snow, and/or slush, especially in East Coast cities like Philadelphia.  Whipping, blustery winter winds contribute to the problem by nudging vehicles and making them harder to control.  If you aren’t used to driving in these conditions, a maneuver as simple as turning a corner could send you into a hair-raising skid – and even if you are used to tough weather, no amount of winter driving experience will give you the ability to spot invisible patches of black ice, especially in low visibility conditions.

PA Winter Holiday Accident Statistics: Christmas and New Year’s Crashes and Fatalities

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With so many risk factors simultaneously in play, it isn’t difficult to see why winter holiday travel is known for causing surges in auto accidents.  The question is, how much danger are you really in?  We can answer that question by looking at the holiday accident statistics that are reported annually by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

  • Crashes, 2015
    • Pre-Christmas – 1,307 accidents
    • Christmas – 869
    • Christmas Holiday Total – 2,176
    • New Year’s – 217
    • Post-New Year’s – 509
    • New Year’s Holiday Total – 726
    • Winter Holiday Total – 2,902

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  • Fatalities, 2015
    • Pre-Christmas – 15 fatalities
    • Christmas – 10
    • Christmas Holiday Total – 25
    • New Year’s – 2
    • Post-New Year’s – 2
    • New Year’s Holiday Total – 4
    • Winter Holiday Total – 29

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  • Crashes, 2014
    • Pre-Christmas – 450 accidents
    • Christmas – 263
    • Christmas Holiday Total – 713
    • New Year’s – 283
    • Post-New Year’s – 363
    • New Year’s Holiday Total – 646
    • Winter Holiday Total – 1,359
  • Fatalities, 2014
    • Pre-Christmas – 2 fatalities
    • Christmas – 2
    • Christmas Holiday Total – 4
    • New Year’s – 0
    • Post-New Year’s – 2
    • New Year’s Holiday Total – 2
    • Winter Holiday Total 6
  • Crashes, 2013 
    • Pre-Christmas – 514 accidents
    • Christmas – 285
    • Christmas Holiday Total – 799
    • New Year’s – 282
    • Post-New Year’s – 398
    • New Year’s Holiday Total – 680
    • Winter Holiday Total – 1,479
  • Fatalities, 2013 
    • Pre-Christmas – 2 fatalities
    • Christmas – 5
    • Christmas Holiday Total – 7
    • New Year’s – 5
    • Post-New Year’s – 4
    • New Year’s Holiday Total – 9
    • Winter Holiday Total – 16

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Auto Accident Claim

From the Wieand Law Firm, LLC, we wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday.  But if the worst should occur, and you or a family member is injured in an auto accident, we’ll be here to provide aggressive legal representation.  Call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (888) 789-3161 to talk about your New Jersey or Pennsylvania personal injury claim in a free legal consultation.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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