Winter traffic in Rhode Island can be dangerous if only for the quickly changing weather. Commuters can leave the house on a clear, sunny morning only to come home in the darkness with several inches of snow on the ground. The holiday season, though, can be a particularly difficult time of the year for drivers to stay safe.
During the winter months, road conditions are often dangerous due to poor weather, lack of daylight hours and crowded large truck transportation. Unfortunately, the holidays bring additional trouble in the form of impaired or inattentive drivers:
- Drunk drivers: Whether it is related to Thanksgiving week’s “Blackout Wednesday” or simply the act of getting home from an after-work social gathering, it is not uncommon for drunk drivers to pepper our crowded city streets or fast-moving highways.
- Medicated drivers: The winter months can bring joy. But they also bring bad weather, long work hours and the chance for group interaction. These factors can combine to result in cold, flu and lack of sleep. Many people rely on strong cold medicine to help them heal and feel better. Unfortunately, these medications can have serious side effects that negatively impact a driver’s perceptions, cognition and overall safety.
- Distracted drivers: While distracted drivers are always a problem on the roads, during the holidays, there will likely be more out of town visitors. This means more phone calls, more email conversations and more text messages for drivers to become distracted by as they attempt to connect with friends and meet with loved ones.
- Drowsy drivers: Many of the above factors can also lead to fatigued driving. Drivers without the proper amount of rest will feel tired, sluggish or drowsy while behind the wheel. This can cause them to miss safety signals, stopped traffic or bad weather. Additionally, drivers might feel tired enough to actually fall asleep behind the wheel and drift into oncoming traffic lanes.
Any of these types of drivers would be hazardous to Rhode Island motorists at any time of the year. Unfortunately, all these factors seem to combine during the holidays. Drivers are wise to remain attentive to identify and avoid poor driving behaviors to reduce the possibility of deadly collisions.