Easter weekend is one of the most-traveled holiday weekends all year, making it one with high accident rates as a result. Good Friday, the start of Passover, and spring break for many, all converge on the same weekend, putting tens of thousands more vehicles on the roads.
With many school districts and higher education institutions stacking spring break either the week before or the week after Easter, holiday traffic conditions will continue much longer than Thanksgiving or Christmas travel weekends.
What Are Some Common Causes of Accidents?
Holiday weekends and higher rates of traffic accidents are synonymous, largely due to the drastic increase of vehicles on our national roadways. Other factors contributing to car accidents include:
- Weather conditions: Wet, slick, or icy roads is one of the largest contributors to car accidents. Though Easter occurs during a spring month, many areas of the country experience winter road conditions.
- Distracted driving: While driving, do not text or read emails, watch videos or engage in onboard technology, eat, apply makeup, play with pets or children, or any other activity that takes your eyes and attention off the road.
- Driving under the influence: Never drive after drinking alcoholic beverages or under the influence of other substances. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 28 people die in drunk driving crashes every day.
- Drowsy driving: Operating a vehicle while sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Lack of sleep can result in the same impairments as those under the influence of alcohol and drugs, including lower ability to process and slowed reaction times.
What Steps Should I Take to Keep My Family Safe While Traveling?
Preplanning your trip and knowing what to expect on the drive are the first key components for traveling safely during the Easter holiday. Additional safety measures include:
- Inspect your vehicle: Nothing can put an instant damper a family trip quicker than car trouble. A flat tire or low levels of engine oil can strand you for hours on the side of the road or a mechanic shop. Check your car’s fluid levels, tire pressure, brakes, wiper blades, battery life, and lights and address any that need repair or replacement before your trip. Make sure to include an emergency kit containing blankets, water, car chargers, food, and first aid items.
- Plan your trip: The long Easter weekend makes for busy and congested traveling in many parts of the country, particularly on Good Friday. Plan your route and schedule to avoid peak driving times, especially if your trip takes you through large cities. Check weather forecasts and travel updates prior to leaving and make necessary adjustments for bad weather or congested roads.
- Careful loading: An overloaded vehicle can affect the performance and function of safety features such as the suspension and braking. Consult your owner’s manual or the inside of the driver’s door to learn the maximum weight limits for your vehicle. Additionally, do not pack small items in the driver’s footwell or the rear footwell behind the driver’s seat. Small items can roll forward and become lodged under the gas or brake pedal.
- Get some sleep: Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving as it slows reaction times and concentration. Get plenty of rest the night before you travel and be sure to take regular breaks from driving to stretch your legs and remain alert, roughly every two hours.
- No distractions: If you are travelling with family members, explain that you will need to be alert and concentrate on driving safely and ask for no distractions. If you are travelling with young children, pack a variety of quiet activities such as reading or playing video games with headphones. Set up GPS and other technology before leaving and set your phone on silent, driving mode, or ask someone in the car to read text messages, send text messages, or take calls if necessary.
- Buckle up: Make sure infants and young children are properly buckled into car seats and booster seats, and everyone is wearing their seat belt before starting the vehicle.
- Watch your speed: Obey speed limits and always maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you with enough space to move or stop to avoid a rear-end collision in sudden stops.
- Drive defensively: The biggest challenges to having a safe road trip are those out of our control, such as other motorists who may or may not be driving safely. Remaining alert and focused to others around you allows you to anticipate their actions and how you respond.
- Avoid alcohol: Do not get behind the wheel if you have been consuming alcoholic beverages or the day after if you experience the “morning after effect,” or a hangover, as you could still be impaired.
What Should I Do if I am Involved in an Accident on Easter Weekend?
No matter how much we prepare and practice to travel safely, we cannot control how others on the road behave and their potential to cause an accident. Should you be involved in an accident, take the following steps:
- Call for help: Call for police and emergency medical services as soon as the accident happens. Even if there appear to be no injuries. This is a crucial step toward recovering damages for the accident and calling the police is a legal requirement in most states.
- Keep calm: Do not engage in arguments with the other driver or anyone else involved in the crash. Remain levelheaded regardless of how the others are behaving.
- Document everything: Shock and adrenaline at the time of the accident can make the details difficult to remember accurately, and the scene will be cleared quickly, so document everything you can at the time. Take photos or video of the scene at the time of the accident. Photograph the vehicle damage, your injuries, road conditions, signage, lighting, obstructions, and anything else that may have contributed to the accident. Document the location of any traffic or security cameras so you can request copies later. This includes law enforcement body-cameras as well.
- Take witness statements: Gather contact information and statements from witnesses, if they are willing to provide them, along with any photos or videos they may have taken.
- Seek medical attention: Always seek a medical evaluation within 48 hours, even if you think your injuries are minor. Many internal injuries and head trauma conditions do not present symptoms for hours, or even days, after the accident. Left untreated, many such conditions can be life-threatening. Additionally, the medical record of your injuries and treatment is extremely important to your liability claim, which may be denied by the insurance company without one.
- Maintain records: Keep any and all documents related to the accident, such as the police report, witness statements, and medical bills for your attorney to use in your case.
- Hire an attorney: Regardless of the seriousness of the accident and resulting injuries, working with insurance companies following a car accident is a difficult endeavor to navigate on your own. Retaining an experienced personal injury attorney is the best option to recover damages for which you may be entitled.
Keep in mind that Virginia law applies contributory negligence in car accident cases, meaning that if you are found to be partially at-fault for the accident, the less damages you may recover. Due to contributory negligence, it is highly recommended that you seek legal representation for your liability claim.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Assist Clients Injured in Easter Weekend Crashes
Traveling to visit loved ones during a holiday makes the occasion even more special. The massive increase in traffic, however, leads to more car accidents during holiday weekends that any other all year. If you have been injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligence, our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC are available to help you recover the damages for which you may be entitled. Call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.