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This past year Virginia was the 5th most dangerous state for drivers, so be sure to do all you can to stay safe behind the wheel!
For many of us, these past 9 months of Covid-19 shut-downs and restrictions have meant less time than usual spent behind the wheel of our vehicles. Many workers across our economy have had work hours reduced or work-from-home arrangements instituted. Most schools have implemented either remote learning or only partial return to in-person school, leaving students at home in front of their computers rather than on a school bus or in the parent drop-off lane. All of this adds up to fewer vehicles on the road, which certainly has its benefits when it comes to highway safety, but, as we explored in a previous blog, that doesn’t necessarily translate to fewer fatalities caused by car crashes.
In fact, for 2020, Virginia ranks fifth in the US among the most dangerous states for drivers. Combine that statistic with the fact that, despite pandemic travel restrictions, a lot of people will be choosing to travel by car this holiday season — AAA is predicting that car travel will decrease only modestly this year, as many people avoid public transportation and instead decide to get behind the wheel themselves — and the potential for a holiday car accident is higher than many of us would think.
If you decide to hit the road for any reason this holiday season, there are things you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible behind the wheel and avoid a potentially devastating injury. One of the simplest safety measures you can take is abiding by the posted speed limit. In 2020, nearly 16% of Virginia drivers were ticketed for speeding. And that’s just the people who were caught by law enforcement! It’s easy to think that driving a little bit over the speed limit is no big deal, but the truth is that high-speed car crashes are deadlier than accidents that happen at lower speeds. So try to give yourself plenty of time to get wherever you are going, and drive with safety, not speed, in mind.
Another big and easily avoidable danger behind the wheel is drinking and driving. Though there may be drastically fewer holiday parties this season (since thanks to Covid-19 we cannot gather freely in large groups), holiday cocktails and operating a motor vehicle never, ever mix well. This past year nearly 2% of drivers in Virginia had a DUI violation, and that’s 2% too many. Even one glass of wine at your holiday meal or celebration should mean that you don’t get behind the wheel of your car. Being sure that you never drive under the influence, and that you never agree to be a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who’s been drinking, is a sure-fire way to decrease your odds of being in a car accident.
And of course, always wear your seatbelt, whether you are just driving around the corner to pick up groceries or are packing up for an extended vacation somewhere miles down the highway. In Virginia, it’s the law for everyone in the front seat to buckle up, and everyone under the age of 18 must have their seatbelt properly fastened, no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle. And check those back-seat passengers: a CDC study showed that the odds of driver death more than doubled when rear-seat passengers were unbelted during a fatal frontal collision, a great reminder of how important it is to double-check that you and every single passenger in your car is wearing a seatbelt, every time before you pull out of the driveway.
Nearly everything about this holiday season is different from years past, and while much of what is going on in the world may feel out of our control, how safely we drive is something we can control. All of us here at Burnett & Williams wish you a happy and safe season of celebration!