Attorney David J. King


Stay alert during the holidays — distracted driving is worse

The holiday season is in full swing, and it probably feels like the preparations will never end. Whether you are hosting guests at your house or creating travel plans, you have a lot on your mind. Luckily, you are a safe driver, but that does not mean other people are. Distracted driving is actually 33% more common during the last few months of the year.

Smartphones are a big contributor to the rise in distracted driving around the holidays. South Dakota residents rely on their smartphones, probably more than they realize. For some people, their phones are the only way they can access the internet. This does not mean that it is okay to use them while driving, though.

Making plans is stressful

Talking on the phone might not seem very dangerous, but it increases the risk of getting into an accident. When drivers are running late for important functions, they might call or text while driving. Holiday pressure can make a person feel that something as minor as arriving late at a party is a desperate situation that needs addressing immediately. Discussing plans can also wait until after the driver arrives at his or her location.

It is not enough to just keep a phone out of reach or tucked away in a purse. Ongoing notifications for things like group messages or texts about holiday plans are also distracting, even when a driver does not look at his or her phone. Turning the phone on silent will not help either. According to research, a phone buzzing on vibrate mode is enough to distract a driver, so silencing the device altogether is better.

Holiday pressure is real

Between all the decorations, get-togethers and holiday food, you might not realize just how stressful the holidays are. We commit a lot of our time to loved ones and shell out money for gifts, which can cause both physical and financial stress. Drivers who are stressed are more likely to engage in aggressive driving habits, and aggressive drivers can cause serious wrecks.

You are not even safe when you are off the road. We tend to see packed parking lots in South Dakota this time of year as shoppers search for the perfect gifts. These shoppers — especially those who wait till the last minute — are usually rushing around and do not pay as much attention as they should. Each and every year, there are 50,000 car accidents in parking lots, so you should be alert when walking or driving in these spaces.

Take measures to protect yourself

According to various studies, two thirds of American drivers say they have no problem with making phone calls when driving. The general acceptance of smartphone use combined with things like holiday stress makes for an extremely dangerous situation. You can minimize your chances of injury in an accident by managing your own stress levels, keeping your phone on silent and being aware of your surroundings on the road and in parking lots. However, minimizing your risk cannot stop a distracted driver.

It is extremely upsetting to get into a distracted driving car accident during the holidays. You already have enough on your plate, and now you are dealing with injuries, medical bills and even lost wages. This is not something that you have to handle all on your own. When you choose to speak with an experienced attorney about your options for filing a personal injury claim, you are opening up the opportunity to get the compensation you need.