On average, just over 100 people die in auto accidents in the United States each day. This includes more than 1,000 deaths per year in South Carolina or just under three deaths per day. However, during the fall and winter holidays, these numbers increase dramatically.
According to data published by AutoInsurance.org, during the major fall and winter holidays observed in the United States – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day – there are more than 300 auto accident fatalities. While AutoInsurance.org lists Christmas as the “safest” holiday for motorists, an average of 337 drivers and passengers still die each year—well over three times the national daily average. In order from most fatalities to least, the most-dangerous fall and winter holidays for drivers and passengers in the United States are:
- Halloween (405 fatal auto accidents per year)
- Thanksgiving (405 fatal auto accidents per year)
- New Year’s Day (344 fatal auto accidents per year)
- Christmas (337 fatal auto accidents per year)
Notably, Labor Day has an even higher rate of fatal auto accidents than Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, and Christmas. Arriving just before the start of fall, Labor Day sees an average of 443 fatal motor vehicle accidents each year.
Why are Auto Accidents More Prevalent on Major Holidays?
Why are auto accidents so much more prevalent during major holidays? The reality is that there are several unfortunate factors that combine to make these days particularly dangerous for motorists in South Carolina and other states around the country. For example, many fatal (and non-fatal) accidents during the fall and winter holidays are attributable to:
- Drunk Driving – As we have previously discussed, data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) show that drunk driving accidents spike during major holidays. Sadly, far too many people drive after drinking to excess during the holidays, and their extremely poor decisions end in tragedy for many families.
- Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is a leading cause of serious and fatal accidents year-round. However, during the holidays, there is evidence to suggest that distracted driving is even more prevalent than it is during other times of the year. Drivers who are talking on the phone and texting about their holiday plans, drivers who are following GPS directions in order to get to friends’ and family members’ homes, and drivers who are posting their holiday photos on social media all present risks for others on South Carolina’s roads.
- Negligent Driving Mistakes – In addition to driving while drunk or distracted, many other types of negligent driving mistakes contribute to the spike in serious and fatal accidents during the fall and winter holidays as well. Drivers who are in a hurry or who get flustered when they miss their turn can make unwise decisions; and, sadly, these unwise decisions can change families’ lives in the blink of an eye.
- Aggressive Driving – No one likes sitting in holiday traffic. When you are off from work and on your way to visit friends or family, the last thing you want to do is waste time sitting in your car. But, it is often a necessity, and drivers who get stuck in traffic need to remain calm and continue to observe the rules of the road. Aggressive driving and road rage is never justified under any circumstances, but they are sadly to blame for many serious and fatal holiday accidents.
What Should You Do After a Serious or Fatal Accident on a Holiday?
1. If You Have Been Seriously Injured in an Auto Accident on a Holiday
If you are involved in a serious auto accident on a holiday in South Carolina, what should you do? First and foremost, you should prioritize your own health and safety. Even though it is a holiday, the police, firefighters, and EMTs are still working, and you need to call 911 from the scene of the collision.
You should also obtain all necessary medical treatment right away. If your doctor’s office is closed, go to your nearest hospital. While no one wants to spend their holiday waiting in an emergency room or lying in a hospital bed, at this point you need to make sure you receive all the necessary treatment for your accident-related injuries.
Finally, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible—ideally, before you call your insurance company. There are mistakes you need to avoid, and an experienced auto accident lawyer will be able to walk you through filing your claim or have someone from his or her office file your claim on your behalf. Many law firms (including ours) take calls 24/7, including on holidays. If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one, you need help, and you do not want to wait any longer than necessary to speak with an attorney about protecting your legal rights.
2. If You Have Tragically Lost a Loved One in a Fatal Holiday Auto Accident
What if you have lost a loved one in a fatal auto accident in South Carolina during the holiday season? Here, too, it is important that you speak with an attorney promptly. If someone else was at fault in the collision (i.e. if your loved one was hit by a drunk or distracted driver), your family can seek financial compensation by filing a claim for wrongful death.
In order to file a wrongful death claim, your family will need to hire a lawyer to investigate the accident, and your family’s lawyer will need to determine liability before initiating a lawsuit. Some forms of evidence can disappear quickly, so it will be important for your lawyer to conduct an investigation as soon after the accident as possible.
Speak with a Rock Hill, SC Auto Accident Attorney for Free
Do you need to speak with an accident attorney about a holiday auto accident in Rock Hill, SC? If so, we encourage you to contact us 24/7. For a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, call 803-327-1103 or tell us how we can reach you online now.