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How drivers can stay safe around holidays

Dec. 13, 2023
A recent study uses telematics data to show when road risks are the highest for truck drivers and fleets around the holidays.

Safety is always a top priority for truck drivers, but this holiday season, there’s additional safety risk information they need to know. A recent study by transportation technology provider Samsara details the risks professional drivers face this holiday season.

There was a spike in harsh braking across the U.S. this Thanksgiving. According to a study by Progressive Insurance, harsh braking is a concern because it’s a predictor of future crashes. This is a good reminder for drivers to keep a safe following distance while navigating holiday traffic.

Traffic is also heavier during the holidays as people travel to visit family. One of the most common causes of reckless driving is traffic congestion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

Robert Chidester, a RelaDyne driver with 45 years of experience, reminds truck drivers of a critical fact to help them deal with other travelers. "Some people think driving a truck is exactly like driving a car, but it's not," Chidester said. "It doesn't stop like a car, it doesn't go around corners like a car, and it can't go uphill like a car. Some people on the road get really frustrated with trucks, but I think they just don't understand how a truck needs to operate and drive on the road."

High traffic also means more distracted drivers, especially around the holidays. In a study by Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a telematics service provider, distracted driving skyrockets during the holiday season. The study found that drivers spend an average of two minutes and 13 seconds on their phones while driving on Thanksgiving Day, an increase of 9.2%. Distracted drivers are another factor truck drivers need to be aware of during the holidays. 

See also: Study: Distracted driving spikes during Thanksgiving travels

Perhaps more telling than these risks is the timing of the worst risks truck drivers can face around the holidays. 

The timing of the worst conditions

Samsara's study found that risky driving behaviors are more common in the weeks leading up to and following a holiday than on the holiday itself. 

For example, the study showed that speeding incidents were 15% higher this year, the week before Independence Day, and 14% higher the week after. And harsh braking this year was 22% higher the week before Thanksgiving than the week before the holiday.

Truck drivers who are more active in the weeks before and after holidays are most likely to encounter increased speeding, harsh braking, and high traffic volumes.

There are also specific times on holidays that are more risky than others. Samsara’s study noted specific trends regarding the time of day that drivers speed most. Trips with speeding incidents more commonly start in the morning between 9 and 11 a.m. Speeding incidents are less likely to occur in trips that begin at night between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. 

According to the study, drivers aren’t necessarily speeding late at night when there is an open road in front of them but instead when they are sharing the road with more vehicles. Thus, drivers may find it safer to drive at night around a holiday than during the day.

About the Author

Jenna Hume | Digital Editor

Digital Editor Jenna Hume previously worked as a writer in the gaming industry. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree in creative writing from Truman State University and a master of fine arts degree in writing from Lindenwood University. She is currently based in Missouri. 

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