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Holiday driving: Yes, it's just a bit different this time of year

According to a university professor who studies holiday traffic patterns, today might be the last of “the bad days” preceding Christmas for drivers to be out on the roads in Ohio and nationally.

The reason for that, says David Brown of the University of Alabama, is this: The “mix of traffic that’s kind of lethal” owing to a frenetic level of shopping, commuters preoccupied with holiday and end-of-year matters and impending store closings is just about now winding down a bit.

Be thankful for that. Brown says that motorists who just have to hit the road might want to wait until tomorrow, when there’s “a cessation of shopping,” and until Christmas Day itself, on Wednesday, which Brown actually denotes as “a very safe day,” given the scarcity of traffic generally on that day.

Brown and other followers of holiday traffic have a bundle of relevant car crash statistics to share this time of year. Some of them are simply interesting. Others are flatly alarming.

Here’s an example of the latter, courtesy of the insurer State Farm: Nearly one-third of motorists are likely to become aggressive over the holiday season. Drivers under 50 are especially apt to fit that bill.

Here’s a tandem statistic, this time from the Highway Loss Data Institute: December is an especially active month for collision-related claims being filed with insurers. In fact, such claims spike upward by nearly 20 percent.

The take away from such numbers is both elementary and obvious, of course. Many motorists are simply a bit harried and distracted this time of year. Some of them add to that distraction in a truly frightening way by ramping up the aggression level as well.

So take care while out on the roads, and be an exemplary driver yourself. Drivers who are cautious and courteous don’t often contribute to crash-related statistics.

Source: Washington Post, "For drivers around Christmastime, it's not exactly tidings of comfort and joy," Ashley Halsey III, Dec. 2, 2013

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