Did you know more people are going out and about this year? It could be the slight uptick in the economy or that Americans are now valuing experiences over consumerism. Whatever the case, people are likely plotting and planning a splashy way to enjoy their New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
An expert opinion by the Barnes Firm, a personal injury lawyer, suggests caution. As they have found that with the spike in road traffic, car crash rates have climbed as well.
According to stats published by the NHTSA, New Year’s Day amounts to 42 percent of total fatalities during the holidays. Whatever your plans are, if you are taking your car, here are 6 ways you can stay safe during one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.
- Commit to keeping your hands off your phone while you drive.
We are all guilty of quickly checking a text message that comes in as we wait at a red light. And our eyes often flit to the screen of our smartphones when we hear a ping. It happens to us all. In the space of one year, 3,477 people were killed due to crashes involving distracted driving. At the top of the most alarming and dangerous distractions to a driver? Texting. Many smartphones now come with a feature that turns off all text messages and other notifications while one is driving. Investigate whether your phone has this setting and make sure that it is on before you hit the road.
- Adhere to speed limits.
In an average of a third of all fatal crashes, speeding is one of the main factors.
It can be tempting to nose above the speed limit, particularly if you are driving a stretch of road that appears to be unmonitored. Or if you feel you might be late to an event. But if you are concerned about arriving on time, leave earlier. Do not try to make up for time on the road.
- Chart out the routes you will take.
If your trip involves crossing state lines or driving for over an hour, make sure to chart out your route before climbing into your car. Download driving apps to help you stay on course, find safe spots for restroom breaks, and sidestep potential dangers.Additionally, listen to traffic forecasts and weather forecasts. Familiarize yourself with the route you will take beforehand. As this will help curb distracted driving and can help you make confident decisions while on the road.
- Let cyclists and pedestrians pass.
Even if a street crosswalk looks empty, always check both ways before proceeding. And it goes without saying, but always, always yield to pedestrians. Do not assume that a pedestrian sees you and will stop in time for you to pass. It is better and safer for all involved to assume that they do not see you. Be patient and yield. You will have lost one minute but saved yourself from other possible repercussions.
- Always put on a seatbelt.
According to the CDC, millions still do not buckle up when driving. Statistics show an alarming connection between car crash fatalities and seatbelt use. Half the adults who died in crashes in 2015 were not using seatbelts at the time of the accident.
Those least likely to wear a seatbelt were young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. And men were surveyed as less likely to use restraints than women. While airbags provide protection during a car crash, they are not a sufficient substitute. In 2015 alone, seatbelts were estimated to have saved 14,000 lives. Buckle up when you set out and insist that any passengers who are sharing the vehicle with you do so, too.
- Put your car in for maintenance.
If you cannot recall the last time you had your car in for a tune-up, now is the time. Get the engine, tires, and brakes checked. Doing a little annual housekeeping to start the year off right should extend to your vehicle, too. What better way to start off the New Year than with knowing that your car is running in tip-top shape? And won’t be giving you any issues as you head to your New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day event?
Plan to take in a fireworks display over New Year’s Eve? Going out for a night on the town? Visiting with friends and family? Make sure you follow these 6 key ways to make your New Years a fun and safe time for all.