In the blink of an eye, the happiest time of the year can quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re not careful. And even if you are careful, there will always be dangers on the road in the form of unforeseen weather and other drivers. Here are some potentially life-saving tips so you and yours can stay safe on the roads this holiday season.
Prepare for a Road Trip
In efforts to try to avoid a car accident, one of the first things road warriors should do before heading out for the holidays is check the weather conditions from the National Weather Service. Make sure your vehicle is winterized. Before leaving for a long trip, check the battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, heater, brakes, defroster, tire tread and oil level.
“Make sure your car is gassed up, tuned up and that tire pressure is correct,” Brad Parker says. “More importantly though, whoever is driving should have plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel, and they shouldn’t have partaken in any alcohol. Be sure to take several breaks during the drive and get some fresh air.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving is dangerous because sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. Being awake for 18 hours straight can make someone drive like they have a blood alcohol level of .05. If a person has been awake for a full 24 hours and drives, it’s like they have a blood alcohol level of .10. If a person causes an accident due to drowsiness or falling asleep behind the wheel, it’s a little trickier to prove.
“The behavior of the car will indicate if someone drifted asleep. Inside the hood is a black box in newer model cars," Brad says. "It tracks the car’s speed, braking, how they veered and if they veered. The download of the black box from the automobile is very telling.”
For all drivers, distracted driving is deadly even in good weather. Texting and looking at a GPS are common violations. One study showed that 85 percent of crashes occur within three seconds of a driver’s distraction; sending a text message while traveling 40 mph can cause your eyes to be off the road for 4.7 to 5.0 seconds, enough time to travel up to 294 feet before you start braking.
When you’re traveling for the holidays it’s likely you have the whole family in the car. Whether it’s kids arguing in the back seat or an unhappy husband or wife in the passenger seat, other occupants in the car demanding your attention could potentially cause a collision.
Don’t Drive Drunk
During the holidays, the number of travelers on the road peaks as friends come together to celebrate and students return home from college. As a result of holiday parties and gatherings, more drivers are impaired by alcohol, too. Unfortunately, fatalities resulting from accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers peak as well. During the 2018 holiday season, there were 2,321 DUI-alcohol related traffic crashes in Texas, resulting in 82 fatalities and 199 serious injuries. During the 2018 New Year’s Eve holiday, there were 4,054 traffic crashes in Texas, resulting in 44 fatalities and 171 serious injuries, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Texas law says that those hosting a party in their home are not liable for the actions of adults who consume too much alcohol on their premises.
Brad says, “While it is true that in Texas there is no legal liability for social hosts unless they serve a minor, people should take care of their guests. Hosts should make sure any guest having drinks has a way home, or they should have a place for them to stay overnight. There is nothing wrong with having fun, but be responsible.”
It’s also important to note that drivers under the influence of alcohol could face up to $20,000 in fines, fees and could lose their license.
“If you are going to knowingly partake in holiday cheer at a party, do not drive. Take an Uber or a cab or call a friend. There is never an excuse to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol,” Brad says.
Check out this chart from the National Highway Safety Administration on Blood Alcohol Concentration:
Have You Been Injured In A Texas Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Bedford, Texas office directly at 817.440.3888 to schedule your free consultation. We help car accident victims throughout Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington as well as all areas of Texas.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.