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Holiday Travel in Washington: What You Should Know

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Holiday Travel in Washington: What You Should Know


For most people, the holidays are a time to reconnect with family or for a much needed break from work and school. Yet for many the holidays can be a time of tragedy. Come late November until well after the New Year, most every state sees an uptick in automobile crashes thanks to increased traffic from holiday travel.

Unfortunately, Washington State is not exempt of this grim reality. In the most recent collision report released by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), a total of 3,074 crashes were reported during the holiday travel period. With more holiday travelers on the road during this time of year, commuters should not only expect to see an elevated risk of a car crash, but also more impaired drivers on the road. Sadly, some drivers occasionally take their holiday cheer a bit too far.

Washington Holiday Traffic Statistics

Out of the 3,000+ holiday crashes reported in 2015, 46 were classified as serious and 10 actually resulted in a fatality. Another 803 accidents produced minor injuries and a staggering 2,092 accidents caused property damage.

There’s no silver bullet to prevent being involved in an automobile accident. But there are a few precautions Washington drivers can take to reduce their risks. First and foremost, always wear a seatbelt. Next, you should never drive under the influence of alcohol or any form of drugs. Driving defensively, too, is a safe way of avoiding risks. Also, driving during the day and in clear weather will prevent accidents caused by impaired visibility. And last but not least, avoid cellphone usage while driving. It only takes a few distracted seconds for an accident to occur.

Source: CLAS (WSDOT) and FARS (WTSC) See Appendix A for more information

WSDOT Holiday Travel Tips

The WSDOT posts the following list of tips for Washington drivers to avoid both preventable accidents traffic jams:

  • Get informed about WSDOT’s online tools, including mobile apps, traffic cameras and email alerts.
  • Visit our online traveler information about traffic, weather and ferry schedules; call 5-1-1 for updated road conditions.
  • Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
  • Leave extra time for travel; don’t rush and be extra alert: one crash can snarl traffic for hundreds of drivers.

In addition, WSDOT releases a number of useful charts tracking the increase in holiday traffic along Washington’s primary corridors of travel. The slideshow below is WSDOT’s most recent charts:


Source: CLAS (WSDOT) and FARS (WTSC)


Photo courtesy Steve Morgan


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