"Christmas time is a particularly dangerous time for drivers because it involves a lot of rushing around to do last minute shopping, hectic traffic, desperately looking for a parking spot while fighting with passengers about which presents to get. All of these issues and situations distract the driver from the main task at hand and increase the risk of having an accident," says Christoph Lauterwasser, CEO of the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT).
"Think first, then drive" – that’s the recommendation of the Allianz accident researchers. They know that nearly all distraction due to activities unrelated to driving can be avoided if the trip is carefully prepared. The AZT recommends that drivers enter the GPS data or select the radio station before setting off. Unzipping the jacket, taking it off and putting on the seatbelt – all of these should also be taken care of before starting the engine. Shopping bags are best stowed in the trunk, because "grabbing slipping objects increases the risk of an accident eight-fold," according to Christoph Lauterwasser.
Drivers usually know when they are emotionally involved in the driving process, but they are less aware of their own driving errors. These are luckily often compensated for by the reactions or care of other drivers. Often the passengers are more aware of any inappropriate driving than the driver.
Last-minute Christmas shopping: distraction through stress
A basic stress tolerance level is one of the fundamental requirements for being able to drive. Every driver must be able to get through narrow lanes due to roadworks or long tunnel sections without becoming inappropriately stressed.
“Stress occurs when additional, usually personal, factors such as time pressure or anger come into play. While the traffic jam might be the same as every day, drivers react in an uncontrolled way when they notice that they are running late", explains Lauterwasser.
Driving blind because of snow, rain or ice
Winter time is window defrosting time – at least for those drivers, who are not lucky enough to have a garage or live in warm climates. Windows also tend to steam up from the inside. Snow can slide from the roof onto the windshield and driving through a snow storm is an experience most people would gladly go withouth.
Over 40 percent of the drivers questioned by Allianz indicated that they only wipe their windshield once they have started driving. 28 percent of those questioned stated that they spend a disproportionate amount of time concentrating on the controls or displays in their car while driving.
While it may take some time prior to setting off, making sure you can see out of the windows can save your life or that of another traffic participant.
Wherever you are, in sun or snow, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday.
Allianz is a global company with a German origin. In that spirit we would like to share a delightful German tradition: the advent calendar. No matter where you live or what your beliefs are, you can discover a new aspect of the worldwide Allianz community. You will even have the opportunity to interact with Allianz and with the many millions of people Allianz connects.
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