A holiday celebration or trip to visit friends and family shouldn’t have to end in a tragedy. Unfortunately, traffic fatalities occur on Texas highways during the major holidays, including Christmas.
Personal finance website ValuePenguin compiled crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that from 2015-2018, approximately 3,399 traffic fatalities occurred on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Which highways are the most dangerous to travel on during Christmas?
After scanning through the crash data, ValuePenguin identified five of the deadliest highways for holiday travel — all of which accounted for 15 percent of all holiday traffic fatalities.
Interstate 35 was among those identified. In Texas, this interstate runs from Laredo to Gainesville, as well as through Waco. The ValuePenguin study identified Bexar, Denton, Travis, Dallas, and Tarrant counties as the five most dangerous areas of I-35 for Christmas travel. Seven Christmas deaths occurred on I-35 from 2015-2018 throughout those five counties.
Interstate 20, which runs through Midland, was also identified in the study. From 2015-2018, five Christmas traffic fatalities occurred on this highway.
What causes holiday traffic fatalities on major highways?
Traffic congestion is often a problem on these interstates during the major holidays for these reasons:
- High speed limits on Texas highways: Many highways and interstates in Texas have speed limits ranging from 70-80 mph, especially on some stretches of interstates 10 and 20. When traffic backs up on high-speed interstates, high-impact rear-end collisions can occur. Roadway departures can also occur when drivers switch lanes abruptly or weave through traffic.
- Aggressive driving and road rage are common: Traffic congestion during the busy holiday season can fuel tempers. Some motorists who become impatient may drive erratically and even engage in road rage.
- Drunk driving increases during the holidays: Adults celebrating holiday festivities with friends and family are more likely to drink this time of year. The loss of coordination, impaired judgment, and reduced reaction time induced by alcohol consumption can make driving on a congested highway especially dangerous.
- Drowsy driving: Long hours of driving during holiday travel can result in some drivers nodding off behind the wheel. Drowsy driving doesn’t always involve falling asleep behind the wheel. The effects of drowsy driving can be similar to drunk driving.
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