Holiday Stress – and its Effect on Driving – is Coming to Town!

Joy. Generosity. Family. These are words that many people, regardless of what traditions they celebrate, associate with the winter holiday season. With house decked out in bright lights, presents to excitedly unwrap, and homes full of family, friends, and delicious meals, the holiday season is certainly a warm, welcoming, and wonderful time of the year! But the holiday season can also be stressful, thanks to things like busy shopping malls, hungry houseguests, and overly-excited children. When holiday stress comes to town, it causes plenty of issues — and when it affects driving behavior, holiday stress can be dangerous.

Accidents During the Holidays

According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents on Christmas were responsible for 45 deaths between 2001 and 2005. On the average, non-holiday day in December in that same period, there were 33 fatalities. New Year’s Eve was even more dangerous, with 54 fatalities occurring on this day between 2001 and 2005. Since these statistics are from over a decade ago, the numbers have likely changed, hopefully for the better, thanks to better safety education and improvements in car manufacturing. Still, they show that winter holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a heavy time for car crashes.

There are a few reasons why the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time on the roads. For starters, the holidays mean that the roads are busier. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest travel period of the year, with 91% of travel involving a car. With more people on the roads, whether they are driving a long distance to visit relatives or making a quick trip to the grocery store, the chances of an accident naturally increase.

When Holiday Stress Leads to Bad Driving Behavior

However, not all holiday accidents can be blamed on the natural chaos of the roads. Driver behavior also causes accidents during the holiday season, and holiday stress plays a big role. Holiday stress contributes to dangerous driving behavior in three main ways:

  1. Drowsy driving. With so much going on during the holiday season, it can be challenging to get a peaceful night’s sleep. But when a driver is up all night wrapping presents, baking cookies, or cleaning the house, the drive to the airport or mall the next morning will be dangerous. When drivers are fatigued, attention and concentration are affected, leading to an increase in accidents.
  2. Drunk driving. After a stressful week of shopping or entertaining guests, some people might be tempted to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. For adults of legal drinking age, there is nothing wrong with unwinding with a drink. But all drivers should know that drinking and driving is dangerous. Alcohol impairs coordination, concentration, and reaction time, making drivers a huge risk on the roads even after just one drink. According to the data from NHTSA, 40% of all fatal accidents during the 2001-2005 holiday seasons involved an impaired driver.
  3.  There is a ton to get done during the holiday season . . . and so little time to do it! To get to their destination on time, some drivers might find themselves pushing the speed limit. But this can only make matters worse, as speeding drivers might get pulled over, or even worse, cause an accident by running a red light, negligently making a turn without looking, or failing to stop for a pedestrian in a cross walk.

Stay Safe This Holiday Season!

With so much going on, the holiday season is always going to be stressful for some people. But it doesn’t have to be dangerous! To prevent a holiday car accident, add safe driving to your holiday checklist— it’s a small step that can make a huge different, and will help keep the holiday season cheerful for everyone. By practicing safe driving on the roads, you are giving everyone on the roads the best holiday gift!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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