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December 15 Most Dangerous Day for California Auto Accidents

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Los Angeles, CACalifornia Auto Accidents occur anywhere, anytime, but more so in California. And December 15 is the most dangerous day of the year, with more than a 20 percent increase in auto claims compared to the rest of the year. Yes, even more than New Year's Eve.

According to a four-year review of claims data from Allstate Insurance, the number of car insurance claims spikes dramatically on December 15. Robert Feldman, an Allstate subsidiary agency owner, says a number of factors could be fueling the trend.

"This spike in crashes could be related to weather, holiday shopping, travel or other distractions," says Feldman. "What's important for drivers is that we stay focused while at the wheel, whether on the highway or in the driveway on December 15 and every day of the year."

And of course, if you have been in a car accident, chances are your car insurance premiums will increase. Traffic safety sites urge you to abide by traffic laws, which will help reduce your chances of being involved in a collision. Most California car accidents occur due to the negligence or fault of others, from DUI to speeding to shoddy tires. Most accidents can be prevented.

Recently, a fatal crash—killing one woman and injuring three others—occurred on 10 Freeway in Los Angeles. One vehicle burst into flames. According to the California Highway Patrol's Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions, Los Angeles County accounted for 667 of the 3,113 fatal and 52,229 of the 170,496 injury traffic collisions that occurred throughout the state in 2008.

Granted, California racks up more accidents because it has a larger population—35 million—than most other states. And more people are on the road during the holiday season; perhaps more people are shopping, stressing and speeding on December 15? During the holiday season many drivers are worried or distracted, causing them to be more distracted and causing you to be more careful. Of course there are other factors. For instance, according to a recent study of U.S. Department of Transportation statistics by the Scripps Howard News Service, California has some of the most dangerous roads nationwide.

But there is good news: California has seen a 14 percent decrease in fatal car accidents statewide from 2007 to 2008. The California Office of Traffic Safety attributes traffic enforcement improvements, drunk-driving awareness and prevention campaigns, and an economy that makes it simply too expensive to drive as the main reasons for fewer deaths on California's roads. As well, new cars are being built with less design defects and safety has become the main concern.

Here are some driving safety suggestions for December 15, and any day of the year:

- Check your vehicle to ensure that windshield wipers, pressure, oil levels, and coolant are properly maintained, and check tires for appropriate tread and pressure.

- Slow down! Drive defensively; drive the posted speed limit, pay attention to the road and you will arrive at your destination safely.

- Plan to stop: Although you and your family might be excited to get to your destination as soon as possible, plan to make stops along the way. Getting out of the car for just a few minutes will help you stretch your legs and even give you time to grab a coffee to stay fully awake while driving. Switch drivers if necessary to avoid an auto accident.

- During the rain and snow season (beginning in November), check the weather at your destination and weather conditions along major highways.

- Distracted driving had become the main cause of auto accidents in the US, and many states have already passed laws punishing this behavior. Avoid texting, playing with your GPS, adjusting the radio or talking on your cell phone while driving. Distractions from children can create added stress while traveling. Be sure to prepare games, DVD's and snacks in advance to avoid potential problems.

- Prepare for emergencies by always having a charged cell phone with you in the car. And buckle up.

- Don't drink and drive! If you plan on partying, designate a driver.

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