Tuesday, 20 August 2013

When road safety takes a holiday

Most of us know to expect an increased presence of police officers patrolling the roads during long weekend holidays. It is pretty common during those occasions to hear friends warning one another of this in order that they might “protect” themselves against the acquisition of a ticket. (While we think anything that causes you to improve your driving is good, we think safety, and not the avoidance of punishment, should be your primary motivator). The error that most people fall into around this however, is in thinking that police officers are merely out there to satisfy a certain quota of driving infractions that they have set a target for. The fact of the matter is, statistics actually do show an increase in motor vehicle collisions during certain holidays, so there is good reason for the additional patrolling. Let's take a look at some of the holidays known to increase the risks of driving.

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Halloween – Zombies and vampires are not the only peril you should be afraid of on this ghoulish day; beware an increase in bad drivers too! Statistics indicate that drivers are somewhere between 8% and 10% more likely to be involved in collisions on this day than on non-holidays. There is certainly more pedestrian traffic on the road at night, and depending on where you live, it will likely be dark when the majority of that foot traffic is out looting. An increase in the numbers of people out there generally, and the timing of that increase during evening hours specifically, make for an increase in the risk of collision overall. If you are a pedestrian, protect yourself by staying well away from the roads, and wearing bright, visible clothing. If your costume has you bound to dark colours, be sure to use reflective strips. In either case, carrying a flashlight is a good idea too—both for your own vision, and for your visibility to others as well. If you are a driver, do your best to make a point of not driving this evening. Plan your errands early in the week so that you can stay off the roads.

Parent days – Both Mother's Day and Father's Day see an increase in motor vehicle collisions when compared with non holidays. Interestingly enough, the increased risk is actually more pronounced on Father's Day. Where there is a 5% to 6% increase in this risk for Mother's Day, that figure is closer to 8% for Father's Day. Does this mean you should avoid celebrating the most important people in your life? Of course not! But there are things you can do to keep the risks down. In making plans, try to minimize the amount of driving you'll be doing that day. If you are holding celebrations at home, make a point of gathering food, beverages, decorations, etc. before the actual day of celebration. If you opt to go out, try to pick a local family favourite to decrease the distance you'll be driving.

New Year's Eve – Not surprisingly, this is the most dangerous holiday of all when it comes to car accidents. In fact, in any given year, the risk of collision goes up by 50% on New Year's Even when compared with other holidays. Unfortunately, the leading culprit of risk factors in this case is alcohol consumption. If you are going out to someone else's party and plan to consume alcohol, have a designated driver. Additionally, keep an eye out for friends who seem to be past their limit, and don't let them leave with car keys in their hands. If you are hosting, do your part by ensuring that everyone has a safe way of getting home (or even a place to stay with you, if you are able to offer it).


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