As our country slowly reopens, drivers should be aware that there may be more cars on the road than usual. People who haven't been behind the wheel regularly since early spring of 2020 may rejoin the ranks of commuters in 2021. These drivers may be a bit rusty, which could increase the risk of accidents or road rage incidents.
The next few months on the road could prove more dangerous than in past years. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), Americans should expect 860 fatalities during the three days around Christmas and the three days around New Year's Day. During this time period, the NSC estimates there will be 50,000 crash-related injuries as well. Luckily, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your passengers when you hit the road again.
Travelers Avoid Airplanes and Rideshare Services
There will be more drivers on the road this winter, as holiday travelers are avoiding rideshare and taxi services to limit their exposure to people that aren't members of their household. In a recent survey from Aceable, 75% of respondents indicated they will not use services like Uber, Lyft, and taxis.
Travelers are also avoiding airplanes during the 2020-2021 holiday season. Nearly three-quarters of people participating in holiday celebrations and family events will instead get there by driving. Those that are choosing to drive instead of fly may be committing to long drives, which increases the chances of driving fatigued. They may also be driving through unfamiliar cities and during winter weather, which could make the roadways more dangerous in general.
Tips to Help Drivers Stay Safe During 2021
As the country reopens and traffic increases, it's more important than ever to drive carefully. In the same survey we referenced above, 53% of respondents said they feel less safe on the roads during the holidays. To help ease your concerns, we've put together this list of tips you can use to feel more comfortable traveling as the country reopens.
If possible, travel during daylight hours. There are fewer hours of daylight in the winter, so it can be easy to forget that you have a smaller window of time when visibility is at its best.
Before a long trip, get your car serviced. Have your mechanic change your oil and check the lights, fluid levels, and tires. A broken tie rod or bad ball joint could directly contribute to a driver losing control of their vehicle while traveling at high speeds.
Add 20% to your planned travel time. Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Using a travel app can help you understand how long it should take you to get to your destination. it'll also help you avoid road closures and traffic problems.
If you get stuck driving in snow or sleet, slow down. Even if you have all-wheel drive, it's smart to reduce your speed so you can maneuver without losing control of your vehicle.
Never drive tired. Fatigue decreases your response time, and it can contribute to the short tempers that cause road rage.
Be on the lookout for angry drivers. Avoid them by slowing down or simply get out of their way. Never engage with an enraged driver. There's no winner in these scenarios. It's best to let the incident go and stay safe.
If you aren't already a confident driver, consider taking a defensive driving course. This class can help you brush up on your skills and help you be an assertive driver, even under stressful conditions.