While the holiday season is still a fun and exciting time of the year, as adults, we recognize that this time of the year is pretty stressful between balancing different events and getting all of that holiday shopping done – the roads a massive source of stress for several other reasons.  

It seems like everyone is out on the road, and it’s even harder to get to your much-needed destinations. Is this elevated road stress a reality – or is it just an illusion cast by overworked and agitated drivers? 

What does science have to say? 

Researchers in several different studies investigated variability in traffic conditions associated with the holiday season. With many reasons to explain why large numbers of people are simultaneously out and about – the question is more “how do we handle these traffic problems” rather than “are there apparent traffic problems.” 

The holiday season is a massive celebration for several different cultures. These celebrations include traveling to families, buying gifts, attending parties, and making a lot of food. Even if you aren’t one for celebrating during this time of year – there are tons of irresistible sales and specials going on. These deals bring out lots of bargain hunters (as well as extra work for employees).  

Even if you’ve managed to avoid all of this stress, some people are in a rush to get to their last-minute appointments before things close down for the holidays. Getting that last appointment in with your hair salon or chiropractor may be a little tricky.  

These factors lead to congested roads for irritable drivers who are all in a hurry.  

Unfortunately, traffic is not the only thing you need to consider when getting behind the wheel.  

Holiday Season and Death 

It seems counterintuitive, but the “most wonderful time of the year” also sees a lot of death. There are many different explanations for these spikes. Researchers attribute some of these deaths to enhanced frequencies of cardiac arrest and suicide, increased incidence of accidence is a substantial contributing factor.  

It’s no secret that accidents are a possibility every time you get on the road. Some conditions make this risk a little higher. Sadly, there are many reasons why the holiday season is a difficult time for automobile accidents.  

  • Traffic: As discussed earlier, there are congested roads during the holiday season. No matter the reason, these many drivers all have a reason for being in a hurry. Traffic jams are a significant source of accidents as drivers are forced bumper-to-bumper and are often incredibly impatient.  
  • Tip: Our tip is that you stay cautious of this potential traffic. The roads aren’t completely blocked the entire holiday season, so consider checking a traffic app before hitting the streets. Always leave early enough to factor in the time you might spend sitting in traffic. Above all, follow the road rules. No one is in that much of a hurry that it is worth risking someone’s safety. Speeding for even a second may potentially save you a few moments of travel – but it can also change your life in the blink of an eye. Accidents are always unique – but they can destroy the holiday season. No one wants to decorate trees or go to parties with whiplash, herniated discs, and lower back pain. Of course, considering the spike in road fatalities due to car accidents, this is the least of your concerns in a holiday collision.   
  • Lots of travelers: This season is the time of year when you want to spend all your extra time with your family. Not only will you deal with locals clogging up the road – you’ll also have outside travelers to worry about. The holiday season is the time for everyone to come home. On top of adding extra drivers to the road, this factor means inexperienced drivers who don’t know the streets well will be there with you. This problem is especially relevant if you have lots of crooked streets and blind spots. 
  • Tip: Be aware that other drivers are on the roads. Also, be extra cautious of swift turns and blind spots in your neighborhood. During 2020 especially, travelers shouldn’t be as much of a problem as they were in the past – but don’t underestimate how many individuals will ignore social distancing recommendations.  
  • Poor weather conditions: “Stay at home” recommendations don’t just apply to corona. There are times where experts advise you to stay off the road during the holiday season. Sleet, snow, and ice are a considerable concern not to take lightly. These conditions make it difficult for your car to grip the road and increase the chance of sliding into a collision. Remember, even if you are confident with your winter driving, other people are on the road to consider.  
  • Tip: Prepare your car for winter. Test your car’s tires and consider if your vehicle is fit for the road. Make sure to pack emergency supplies in your vehicle (such as flares or first aid kits) just in case. Avoid very steep roads during this time of the year that your vehicle (or others’ cars) may not handle. Above all, know when to stay home! Avoid driving at night when visibility is down. Ask yourself if getting that last-minute gift or attending that party worth it.  
  • Celebrations: Parties are fun, but also lead to some irresponsible behavior. Many people like to stay up late and party into the new year – but they don’t always make the most responsible decisions. New Year’s day also experiences a spike in deaths. Specifically – alcohol-related traffic fatalities.  
  • Tip: NEVER get behind the wheel while under the influence. This rule also applies to getting in the car with other people who were drinking. If you notice anyone about to make an irresponsible decision – stop them. There are taxis for a reason. Try to stay off the roads during times when partygoers are running around.  

Midtown Medical is launching a new podcast series called Midtown Medical Talks. To connect with our audience at home, during these uncertain times. Midtown Medical Talks is a personal injury medical and law informational podcast channel that offers next-level entertainment and business news to its listeners. Hosted by our Midtown Medical team, we are now streaming on all major listening platforms.   

To listen, visit https://midtownmedicaltalks.com/ for more information.