Whilst Santa's sleigh has the luxury of open sky and a set of trusty reindeer (including one red nosed fellow) to make sure he stays on course, for many of us, Christmas presents a real danger. Thousands take to the icy roads to navigate their way to social events, nativity plays whilst running the risk of a serious accident on Britain's roads.
With Christmas parties, office get-togethers and an increase in alcohol consumption, not to mention the hazardous weather, Christmas can be a very dangerous time to take to the road with accidents rising throughout the festive period.
Frosty conditions mean that driving can be more difficult with ice and snow giving drivers less control over their vehicle. Allowing extra time before setting off to your destination, keeping a close eye on speed and winter tyres can help reduce the number of road accidents over Christmas. The festive period is one of the worst times for accidents across the UK, with a combination of drinking and dangerous conditions making it a lethal time on the roads. Wintery conditions result in reduced vision for drivers, with commuters being encouraged to take their time when setting off. If you are involved in an accident it is crucial that you take as much detail as you can to be able to prove that the incident was a result of negligent driving.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service watch manager, Paul Timmons says, "Snow, sleet and rain all reduce visibility and mean slippery road surfaces, making it more likely people will experience a collision."
Sadly, despite the best efforts of police and campaigners, drinking remains one of the major reasons for accidents on the road. Not only does Christmas and December in general see an increase in drink driving with police this year announcing over 150 arrests since the 1st December. With harsher drink penalties and tighter drink driving laws across the UK, as well as endangering the life of other road users, the penalty and impact of drink driving can be life changing. A way to prevent drink driving is to have a designated driver, take public transport, have someone pick you up or arrange transport home before going out.
Scotland's drink driving limit has been lowered meaning that a pint of beer could put the driver over the limit. Whilst it is tempting to have one for the road at a Christmas shindig, it is imperative to not drink and drive. If you are involved in an accident with someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs you will be able to make a personal injury claim due to negligent driving. It is important that you prove negligence on the part of the other driver and take down details if possible. The new limit has been praised as a way of cutting down accidents with motorists no longer risking having an alcoholic beverage before setting off on the road. Since the new law has been passed, according to research, the number of drivers failing breathalyser tests has fallen by 30%.
In order to reduce accidents, drivers have been encouraged to remember the morning after period for driving in order for the alcohol to leave your system. If you are in an accident on the road but found over the drink driving limit, you will not be able to claim compensation.
Statistics show that it is not just drivers that are in danger on the roads due to alcohol consumption, with many pedestrians causing accidents. The run up to Christmas is the most common period for drunk walkers to be injured in accidents with cars, with 14% of all pedestrians injured by cars in the last three years when under the influence of alcohol. More than 6,000 pedestrians being injured when intoxicated since 2011.
The figures which come from the Department of Transport under a freedom of information request pose yet another risk to responsible drivers on the road, with thousands of incidents occurring due to no fault of the driver. One in ten pedestrians admitted falling into the road when intoxicated with just over 10% being injured as a result of their actions. Over 30% of drivers have admitted to having to swerve an intoxicated pedestrian with one in every eight drivers hitting them.
AA spokesman Paul Watters said: "We have had reports of pedestrians lying in the gutter and being killed because coroners said drivers did not see them.
"Sometimes drunks use main roads and even motorways to walk home because it's the way they know from driving. Then they tumble into the road and there's a tragedy."
Gemma Stanbury, head of motor insurance at Confused.com, said: "There is already much being done to raise awareness around the dangers of drink driving, but it is the responsibility of all road users – both motorists and pedestrians - to act responsibly when near or on the roads."
"Nobody wants to see anyone involved in a road accident, especially over the Christmas period.
"However the reality is that more people are out consuming alcohol over the festive season, leading to an unfortunate increase in the number of pedestrian casualties."
We understand that no one ever wants to be involved in an accident, especially over the Christmas period. However, some matters are out of your control with weather and other factors often leading to incidents. If you have the misfortune of being involved in an accident over Christmas it is crucial that you take note of as much as you can, and provide evidence whether it be photographic evidence or an eye witness to back up your claim. Contact us using our online enquiry form for expert solicitors to handle your claim.