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The holidays bring increased travel

The holidays bring a lot to our lives. Fun. Family. Relaxation. Time together. However, they also mean a lot of extra travel to spend them with the people we love.

And we're not alone. Holiday travel spikes all over the United States. From Dec. 23, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2018, Americans set a record as 107.3 million people -- about a third of the entire country -- decided to travel for the holidays.

Some took planes, some took trains and many took cars and trucks. Some just drove a few miles to go to their grandparents' houses; others crossed the entire country to see family members that they hadn't seen since the previous holidays. Everyone's situation is different. Holiday travel is just something we take in stride, that we know well and expect every year.

Safety risks

What is true, though, is that having an entire third of the country traveling at the same time can massively elevate the risks. More cars and trucks hit the road. People drive to places they don't normally go; you have people flying into Pennsylvania and renting cars, for instance, unsure how to get anywhere or how to drive in the winter weather.

Plus, a lot of these people are in a hurry. The holidays aren't supposed to be stressful, but they often are. There are so many people to see and so many things to do. People have tight schedules. They rush to make it to dinner on time or to catch a flight. Some rush just to try to pack one more event into an already busy schedule.

Moreover, the holidays often come with drinking. This starts even before the dates listed above. Thanksgiving Eve is the No. 1 bar holiday in the U.S. But you also have plenty of drinking on Thanksgiving Day, at Christmas parties, at New Year's Eve parties and on New Year's Day. Many college students have the entire time off with no obligations.

This means that some of the highest levels of drunk driving may also coincide with the highest traffic volumes of the year. Combine that with all of the other factors noted above -- rushing drivers, people on unfamiliar roads, poor weather conditions, etc. -- and you have a combination that can quickly lead to a rash of serious road accidents.

Your rights

If you get injured in a crash this year, it can absolutely ruin your holidays. You may have high medical bills, lost wages and many other costs that you really don't want and have no way to cover. If another driver caused that accident, make sure you know about all of the legal steps you can take to seek out financial compensation.

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