Now that Christmas has passed, the rush to return gifts that are too small, too big or just not right begins. Many retailers are opening at the early hours of December 26, and consumers appear ready. In fact, after Christmas sales represent a good proportion of holiday sales.

Because of this, the exuberance (and stress) of shopping for gifts may still affect how drivers may act while behind the wheel. According to a University of Alabama study on traffic patterns, the number of accidents increase in the days leading up to Christmas. However, the continuing shopping onslaught suggests that the high possibility of accidents will continue as well. 

Essentially, the number of drivers on the road, combined with frayed nerves, can set the stage for accidents. Drivers may not be as attentive because they are preoccupied with taking advantage of sales or they may be overly aggressive in getting from Point A to Point B. Regardless of the reasons, drivers still have a legal (and practical) duty to use reasonable care while driving. This means that they must exercise the same level of care that a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. It also means that drivers must refrain from using cell phones, driving aggressively or texting while behind the wheel.

If a driver fails to use such care, and their inactions lead to an accident, the offending driver could be held liable for the crash. Injured parties could seek compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

So even though Christmas has passed, drivers must still be vigilant. 

Source: WashingtonPost.com, “For drivers around Christmastime, it’s not exactly tidings of comfort and joy,” Ashley Halsey III, December 2, 2013