It’s the Most Dangerous Time of the Year
The holiday season is officially upon us, and although there may be smaller parties and limited celebrations, the period between Thanksgiving until the end of the year is still one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Based on figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 36 alcohol-related traffic fatalities occurred every day in the United States during the five-year period that was examined between 2013-2018. However, this figure rose to 45 fatalities a day around Christmas and to 54 a day around the New Year’s holiday. And with less people wanting to travel by plane in order to avoid Covid, that means those who have their heart set on traveling may be more inclined to opt for driving instead. AAA Newsroom reported that road trips will top holiday travel plans this year: travel by automobile is projected to fall 4.3%, to 47.8 million travelers and account for 95% of all holiday travel.
Therefore, it is important to be educated. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT)’s Annual United States Road Crash Statistics:
- More than 38,000 people die every year in crashes on U.S. roadways. The U.S. traffic fatality rate is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
- An additional 4.4 million are injured seriously enough to require medical attention.
- Road crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged 1-54.
- The economic and societal impact of road crashes costs U.S. citizens $871 billion.
- Road crashes cost the U.S. more than $380 million in direct medical costs.
- The U.S. suffers the most road crash deaths of any high-income country, about 50% higher than similar countries in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan.
- Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities continue to rise in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2018 than in any year since 1990.
Furthermore, in their report, AAA offered some important advice to those hitting the road this holiday season. The most important of which is to plan ahead: minimize the number of stops along the way, pack meals, extra snacks and drinks in addition to an emergency roadside kit.
Before you head out, be sure your vehicle is ready for the trip to avoid a breakdown along the way.” In addition to CDC guidance, AAA reminds travelers to be aware of local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders. See below for their full list of “What to Know Before You Go” this holiday season:
- Plan Ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
- Follow Public Health Guidance. Consistent use of face masks combined with social distancing (at least 6 feet) and regular handwashing are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. Be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Also pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
- Verify Before You Go. Call ahead to minimize any last minute surprises.
- Hotels – Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining.
- Car rentals – If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. For extra peace of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.
For more helpful AAA resources, visit AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for the latest state and local travel restrictions. Use TripTik.AAA.com to plan your road trip and help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route.