The holidays are now upon us. Office parties, neighborhood get-togethers, parades, Christmas-lights displays, and holiday sales are all fun events that result in Americans taking to their vehicles with greater frequency than usual. However, in addition to all the fun local events that account for increased car time, long-distance trips account for the bulk of increased travel time. Indeed, AAA predicted that more than 46 million Americans would journey 50+ miles from home to their Thanksgiving destination this year—the most since 2007. The impact of the low price of gasoline is fueling, so to speak, this increase in travel. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation has also found that the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years periods are the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year.
With all of this in mind, one must be mindful of the increased dangers that present during the holiday season as well. One increased danger is the increased consumption of alcohol followed by driving. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism cited a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistic that found that 2-3 times more people die in alcohol-related crashes around the Christmas/New Year’s period than during comparable periods the rest of the year. Additionally, 40 percent of traffic fatalities that occur during this time involve a driver who is impaired (compared with 28 percent for the rest of December). Thanksgiving also has a higher likelihood of a car crash. The National Safety Council estimates that 418 people will lose their lives over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Unfortunately, one such accident occurred in St. Petersburg this Thanksgiving afternoon. Anthony Apollo Neeley, 31, faces two counts of driving under the influence-manslaughter and other charges. According to www.tbo.com, the St. Petersburg Police reported that Neeley, who was driving a 2003 Porsche sports utility vehicle, fled a crash occurring on Central Ave and 58th Street that did not result in any injuries. After fleeing that scene, Neeley drove on and eventually struck a 2009 Toyota Corolla occupied by a male driver and a female passenger. The Corolla was traveling west on Central Ave, turning left onto 34th Street. Neeley struck them on the right hand side, causing their vehicle to roll over several times before coming to a complete stop and killing them instantly. Witnesses who observed Neeley’s vehicle on Central Ave estimated his speed to be in excess of 100 m.p.h.
Neely exhibited signs of impairment, and after an investigation conducted by the St. Petersburg police, his blood-alcohol level was determined to be in excess of 0.08, Florida’s legal limit.
While you cannot control other drivers’ actions, you can proactively attempt to prevent another holiday tragedy from occurring. How so?
- Make sure your vehicle is tuned up and in proper working order.
- Restrain yourself and demand your passengers wear their seat belts. Ensure children are properly secured in child safety seats and that the child safety seats are properly installed. Remember, the back seat is the safest place for children of any age.
- Do not speed and drive appropriately for conditions and inclement weather.
- Obey all traffic control signs and signals.
- Keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you, especially if you are driving in inclement weather.
- Do not pass other vehicles if you are approaching a hill or an area where you cannot see clearly.
- Do NOT drink alcohol and drive. Appoint a designated driver.
- Do not look at your cell phone or text while driving.
- Stay alert while driving.
- Be flexible with your travel plans. If you can avoid peak travel times, do so.
Sources: Iowa Department of Transportation, AAA
If you are the unfortunate victim of injuries occurring due to a car crash and that driver’s negligent actions, or you lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, contact the attorneys at Brooks Law Group today. We can evaluate your case and help determine whether you are entitled to any compensation.