The holiday season is a time to enjoy time with family and reflect on the year that was, but it is also a time to exercise extra care on the roads. According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES), there are more auto accidents in Florida during the holiday season than any other time of year.

While accident rates in coastal areas of Florida, such as Niceville, reach a peak during the summer months, accidents also increase during December in these areas and statewide. Data from FIRES show that:

  • Statewide, in 2014 and 2015 there were more auto accidents in December than any other month of the year. In 2016, December had the third most car accidents of any month.
  • In Okaloosa County, accident rates have consistently peaked during Summer before dropping off in the Fall and then spiking again in December and January.

Tips for Safe Driving During the Holidays

Whether you are shopping, traveling to visit friends or family, or simply going about your normal routine, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of suffering serious injuries in a car crash during the holiday season. These include:

  • Wear a Seatbelt (or Helmet). Studies have shown that wearing a seatbelt can significantly reduce drivers’ and passengers’ injury risk in the event of a collision. The same goes for motorcycle riders and DOT-rated crash helmets. Florida law requires drivers, front seat passengers, and rear seat passengers under 18 to wear seatbelts, while helmets are mandatory for motorcycle riders under age 21.
  • Drive Defensively. While other drivers are frantically trying to reach their destinations, using their phones and engaging in other risky behaviors, you can protect yourself by observing the rules of the road. Obey the speed limit, use your turn signals, leave plenty of buffer and leave plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Know How to Spot Potential Hazards. Reckless, drunk and distracted drivers are hazards to themselves and everyone else on the road. From tailgating to weaving through traffic, if you know the warning signs of dangerous drivers, you will be better able to avoid potentially-dangerous situations.

What to Do if You are Injured in an Accident

Of course, in some circumstances, it simply will not be possible to avoid the consequences of someone else’s negligent driving. If you have been injured in an auto accident in Florida, taking these steps will help you protect your claim for financial compensation:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible, and follow your doctor’s advice (or seek a second opinion if you have concerns about your diagnosis or treatment).
  • Report the accident to your insurer, but do not give a recorded statement or say anything that could suggest potential liability.
  • Take plenty of photos, write down everything you can remember about the accident, keep your medical bills and receipts, and keep a journal detailing all of the ways your injuries impact your life.
  • Avoid discussing the accident in person or on social media. You do not want to give the insurance companies the opportunity to use your own words against you.
  • Seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. Your losses could be greater than you realize, and you will need legal representation to maximize your financial recovery.

Contact the Niceville Car Accident Lawyers at Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A.

We offer free initial consultations and contingency-fee representation for auto accident victims throughout the Florida Panhandle. If you would like to speak with an attorney about your legal rights, we invite you to call us at (850) 682-2757 or request an appointment online today.