Spring break is fast upon us. Running from late March through April for most institutions, it is perhaps the most anticipated tradition for students of all ages, from elementary school kids to the college crowd – a full week away from the demands of the classroom and a time for a bit of unbridled fun. But for teens and young adults of driving – and drinking – age, the diversion can prove a dangerous time.

The sobering reality is that spring break brings a heightened risk of car accidents, especially in the Southeastern United States. And Georgia, with its bustling highways and popular destinations, presents its own set of challenges and dangers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), spring break sees a significant spike in car accidents, making it one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) backs that claim, reporting that Georgia consistently ranks among the states with the highest number of traffic fatalities during spring break. Among the top culprits are:

  • Increased traffic volume: One of the most significant factors contributing to car accidents during spring break is the sheer increase in the number of vehicles on the road. As students and families embark on road trips to popular destinations, highways and streets become congested, increasing the likelihood of collisions.
  • Distracted driving: With the rise of smartphones and other electronic devices, distracted driving has become a pervasive problem on the roads. During spring break, young drivers may be more inclined to use their phones for navigation, texting or social media, taking their attention away from the task of driving and increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Fatigue: Long hours spent driving to reach vacation destinations can lead to driver fatigue, impairing reaction times and decision-making abilities. Fatigue-related accidents are especially common during spring break, as travelers push themselves to cover long distances without adequate rest breaks.
  • Impaired driving: Alcohol consumption is often a part of spring break festivities, particularly among college students. Unfortunately, some individuals choose to get behind the wheel after drinking, putting themselves and others at risk of serious harm. Impaired driving remains one of the leading causes of car accidents during this time.
  • Inexperienced drivers: Spring break often coincides with school breaks, meaning that many young drivers may be hitting the road without much experience behind the wheel. Inexperience, coupled with the excitement of vacation, can lead to reckless driving behaviors and an increased likelihood of accidents.
  • Adverse weather conditions: Depending on the destination, spring break travelers may encounter a range of weather conditions, from rain and fog to high winds and even snow in some regions. Driving in adverse weather requires caution and skill, and failing to adapt to changing conditions can result in accidents.
  • Road construction and hazards: Spring break coincides with the onset of warmer weather, prompting many municipalities to undertake road construction projects. Construction zones can be hazardous for drivers, with narrow lanes, reduced speed limits, and unpredictable traffic patterns increasing the risk of accidents.

Georgia’s Spring Break Hot Spots

Georgia boasts a diverse array of attractions, making it a popular choice for spring breakers. From vibrant cities to serene coastal towns, there’s something for everyone. However, a handful of top destinations prove particularly appealing and, unfortunately, pose greater risks than others:

  • Atlanta: The bustling capital city draws visitors with its rich history, cultural landmarks, and vibrant nightlife. However, its congested highways and busy streets can increase the likelihood of accidents, especially during peak travel times.
  • Savannah: Known for its charming historic district and picturesque riverfront, Savannah is a favorite among tourists. But, its narrow streets and heavy tourist traffic can make navigating the city challenging, particularly for inexperienced drivers.
  • Tybee Island: With its pristine beaches and laid-back atmosphere, Tybee Island is a popular destination for sun-seekers. However, its limited roadways and influx of visitors during spring break can lead to congestion and accidents.
  • Athens: Home to the University of Georgia, Athens attracts students and music enthusiasts alike with its vibrant music scene and lively atmosphere. The potent combination of college parties and increased traffic, however, can create hazardous conditions on the roads.

Doing Spring Break Safely

While the allure of spring break adventures is undeniable, it’s essential to prioritize safety when hitting the road. Whether you’re an avid spring breaker yourself, or simply looking to stay safe in the midst of the revelry, Farrar, Hennesy and Tanner offer these tips for protecting yourself and your family during spring break travel in Georgia:

Plan ahead: Before setting out on your journey, take the time to plan your route and familiarize yourself with potential hazards along the way. Be sure to check for any road closures or construction projects that may affect your travel plans.

Drive defensively: Stay alert and vigilant while behind the wheel, anticipating the actions of other drivers and reacting accordingly. Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, and weaving in and out of traffic and be watchful of those behaviors in fellow drivers.

Avoid distractions: Keep distractions to a minimum by refraining from using your phone, adjusting the radio or engaging in other activities that take your focus away from the road. If necessary, designate a passenger as the navigator to assist with navigation tasks, particularly when driving long distances.

  • Take breaks: If embarking on a long road trip, be sure to schedule regular rest breaks to combat fatigue and maintain alertness. If possible, switch drivers to ensure that everyone remains fresh and attentive.
  • Buckle up: Always wear your seatbelt and insist that all passengers do the same. Seatbelts are your first line of defense in the event of a crash and can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury or death.
  • Avoid impaired driving: Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you plan to consume alcohol, designate a sober driver or arrange for alternative transportation such as a rideshare service. Nationwide, it is estimated that designated drivers have saved 50,000 lives since the launch of the movement that popularized them in the 1980s.
  • Be weather-wise: Historically, March is one of the rainiest months of the year in Georgia. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and adjust your travel plans accordingly.

Spring break offers the promise of adventure and relaxation, but it’s important to remember that safety should always be a top priority. By being mindful of the risks and taking proactive measures to mitigate them, you can ensure that your spring break travels are both enjoyable and safe. If you or a loved one is injured in a spring break accident, Farrar, Hennesy and Tanner can help. Call 912- 384-2287 or visit us online to schedule a free case review.