Study Finds It’s More Dangerous to Drive During the Holidays

Anyone driving in Virginia recently knows very well that winter weather can create dangers on the road around the holidays. But do the holidays also increase the potential for distracted driving?

TrueMotion, a company that measures mobile telematics, a method of capturing and processing driving data, looked at more than 3,000 US drivers from November 18, 2017, to January 3, 2018, and found that drivers were more likely to check a text and review posts on Facebook and Instagram between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. In fact, drivers use apps and text 33 percent more during the holidays.

While the precise reason is unclear, Matt Fiorentino, director of marketing at TrueMotion, speculates that as people are driving home, they want to send updates as to where they are.

“Unfortunately, sometimes they’ll send a text while they’re driving,” said Fiorentino. “This also happens when you’re stuck in traffic and want to let your loved ones know you’ll be delayed.”

To compound the problem, TrueMotion also found that speeds increase during the holidays. People speed 45 percent of the time during the holiday season on average, compared to 25 percent of the time during the non-holiday season. Thus, not only are drivers more distracted, but they are distracted while driving at higher speeds. This is a recipe for accidents.

Sobering estimates by the National Safety Council speculate that 433 people will die and 49,400 will be seriously injured in car accidents during Thanksgiving this year. While this year’s numbers are not yet in, the most recent data from three years ago echoes similar statistics: 355 people died on New Year’s Day and 273 died on Christmas Day—many of those in alcohol-related crashes, another hazard of driving this time of year.

What’s the best way to remain safe? Slow down, stay off your phone, and don’t drink and drive. Instead of texting location information to your loved ones, consider using the “Share Your Location” feature on iPhone (click here for instructions) or Android (click here for instructions). If you’re in the Richmond or Charlottesville areas on New Year’s Eve, consider also taking advantage of Allen & Allen’s Sober Ride Home program.

“Everyone wants a holiday to remember, but not for the wrong reasons,” said former National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman.

Have a happy, and SAFE, holiday!