Don’t Become a Holiday Travel Statistic

There’s a pretty simple formula that plays out year after year on our highways around this time.

Holiday season = more travel = more traffic = more vehicle breakdowns and accidents. And frequently contributing to making this formula a consistent reality is bad weather. 

Rain, snow, and wind come with the territory this time of the year in many areas. Which means more road congestion and more mishaps. 

Some folks avoid holiday season travel as much as possible for this very reason. Others feel it’s worth the hassle and risk in order to spend time with loved ones we don’t see often enough.

100 Million-Plus on the Roads 

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), there will be approximately 120 million Americans traveling over the next couple of weeks. A vast majority of them will be driving.

Just prior to the Covid pandemic, some 119.3 million Americans traveled between December 23 and January 2, 2019. That number included 108 million people driving. It represented a high mark since they started keeping these statistics.

Not surprisingly, that number dropped over the next couple of years. But it is expected to rise again during this holiday season.

Today I want to address the issue of increased traffic this time of year. And share a few tips regarding holiday travel preparation. Later this week I’ll send you an email with my tips for safe traveling during the holidays. So please be on the lookout for that. 

Busiest Travel Week of the Year

Robert Sinclair is with Triple A. He says the day before Thanksgiving is the single busiest travel day of the year. But he’s quick to add that the busiest travel week of the year is December 26 through January 1. 

“All other holidays pale in comparison,” he said. “Well over 100 million travel during that period. With kids out of school and most parents taking some vacation time.” 

Narrowing it down even more, what do you suppose are the busiest travel days in December? According to INRIX, it’s the afternoons and evenings of December 23 and 24. INRIX is a company in Washington state. They provide location-based data and analyze traffic conditions.

Among the top holiday travel destinations are Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California. Plus Las Vegas, New York City, and Atlanta.

Estimate: Hundreds Dead, Tens of Thousands Injured

Unfortunately, going hand in hand with an increased number of vehicles on the roads are accidents and injuries.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 350 people will die in traffic accidents during this holiday season. And another 40,000 will be injured severely enough to require medical attention.

That’s scary stuff and should make all of us more cautious. Getting somewhere safely is a lot more important than getting somewhere quickly.

Seatbelts save lives. The NSC estimates that 138 lives could be saved this holiday season if all vehicle occupants wear them.

Drinking Will Be a Factor

An even greater factor is alcohol consumption. It goes up during the holiday season. That’s due to office parties and holiday gatherings in establishments and homes. 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says that among those who consume alcohol, nearly one-half admit they drink more at family holiday parties than any other time of the year.

In a recent year, nearly one-third of vehicle fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver. You don’t have to be legally drunk to be impaired, so please keep that in mind. And don’t ride in a car with an impaired driver.

In fact, even some prescribed and over-the-counter medications can affect a person’s driving ability. Including cold, flu, and allergy meds. They can cause drowsiness and blurred vision. 

Drinking & Driving Myths

For those who consume any alcohol before driving, consider these three myths about your capabilities:

  • Drinking coffee will get me sober. Nope. It might wake you up a little bit, but it will not lower your blood alcohol level. Or improve your coordination and reaction time.
  • It will be safe to drive if I stop drinking for an hour. Nope. It takes about two hours for your body to metabolize one standard alcoholic beverage. And that’s just one drink. 
  • If you’re not slurring, you’re fine. Nope. Some folks can speak normally and walk a straight line even if they are somewhat impaired. Driving skills can be affected before physical signs of intoxication take effect. 

Pass It on, Save a Life

I hope you found today’s communication helpful as you think about any traveling you’ll do this holiday season. Especially during rough weather that frequently happens this time of year. 

If you did, please feel free to forward it to your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones you think might benefit from it.

And if you have any thoughts on this subject I did not address, please feel free to add them to the Comments section.

And one final reminder. Watch for another email from me later this week with suggestions for keeping your holiday travels as safe as possible.


  • Carol Wilson - December 12, 2023

    Thank you for this message , statistics and warnings. I agree 100%. It’s safer to take family gatherings, holidays etc at other times instead of these statisticle dangerous times…it’s not worth possibly losing the life of yourself , loved one or killing someone else. The truth is, to deliberately get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking and cause the death of someone , is premeditated murder because everyone knows its against the law to drink and drive.
    Don’t do it!

  • ernie - December 12, 2023

    tire pump is no good unless you have tire repair kit or fix a flat can or it is a small enough leak and the pump will get you by

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