’Tis the season of holiday travel, but with it comes holiday traffic.
According to the American Automobile Association, 2022 is expected to be the third busiest year for holiday travel since AAA began tracking in 2000.
The association estimates 112.7 million people will trek 50 miles or more away from home between Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 — an increase of 3.6 million people over last year and closing in on pre-pandemic numbers.
Local Congestion is Washington state is also expected Dec 23-26 on major routes like I-5, I-90 and US 2. You can help avoid delays by using the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Travel Chart.
WSDOT provides several tools to help prepare for winter travels – whether by vehicle, foot or sleigh:
- Look up real-time travel conditions for state highways or ferry routes online using the WSDOT website or track it on the WSDOT mobile app.
- Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook for updates on potential crashes or road closures.
- Pre-program 530 AM and 1610 AM to vehicle radios for highway advisory radio alerts.
- Carry chains and other winter travel essentials.
- Check the WSDOT mountain passes webpage for information on pass updates or the latest chain or traction tire requirements. The Washington State Patrol has more information about traction tire regulations and chain alternatives.
- Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel, slow down, leave extra space between vehicles when driving on snow or ice and watch for bicyclists or those using crosswalks.
- Sign up for area-specific news about road closures or incidents, whether close to home or areas that are part of holiday travel plans.
Cross-state travel and mountain passes
If you are traveling on unfamiliar roads and over unfamiliar passes to visit friends and family, be sure to prepare for winter weather driving conditions (PDF 2.3MB) and staying alert.
Most pass closures, for example, are due to poor driver behavior, such as going too fast for conditions or not having proper winter driving equipment. WSDOT reminds drivers to follow posted chain requirements and slow down on snow and ice (PDF 2.3MB).
Some good news, WSDOT is reporting no construction is planned on most state roads from Friday, Dec. 23 to Monday, Dec. 26 – including on I-90 and Snoqualmie Pass.
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, Dec. 26, for the State Route 520 bridge and SR 99 tunnel. The I-405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on Monday. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and temporary account payment options on the Good To Go! visitors page.
People boarding a state ferry by vehicle should prepare for long waits. With Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, the Friday and Saturday before each holiday are expected to be the busiest. Delays are possible in both directions on all routes. Customers can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
- All riders should double check the sailing schedules as some routes are operating on timetables that are different than prior to the pandemic.
- Visit the Washington State Ferries website for more details on vehicle reservations, ferry email alerts, checking terminal conditions and COVID-19 travel updates.
- Check with local public transit agencies for any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not operate over holidays.
Trains, airports and transit
Travelers making a trip by train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:
- Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. Trains are running between Seattle and Eugene, Oregon and between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Buses also are operating for travel between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia and between Seattle and Bellingham. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800-USA-RAIL for tickets.
- For information about traveling via state-sponsored airports, visit wsdot.wa.gov/travel/aviation/airports-list or email Paul Wolf at email@example.com with questions.
- Check with local public transit agencies for any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not run on holidays.
Accidents and Collisions
1. Call Law Enforcement
The at-fault driver may dispute their role in the collision leaving an injured motorist or passenger struggling to prove their innocence. Law enforcement is not required to prepare an accident report in every case; therefore, call law enforcement in the event of a collision and ask that they take statements and prepare a report. You don’t always know the extent of vehicle damage or injuries until days later, and sometimes memories fade, so you should make a complete record of the incident at the time that it happens.
2. Exchange Information
Be sure to exchange driver’s license, insurance and registration information with the other automobiles involved in the collision. “Too often we are tracking down information about other drivers, cars and witnesses,” said Abbarno.
3. Get More Information
Take photographs of the automobiles and scene, and get the name and contact information for any witnesses to the collision. More and more insurance companies are denying liability or trying to assign contributory fault to the innocent victim. Witness information is invaluable in many cases. Even without witnesses, experienced personal injury attorneys know how to get information. “Newer vehicles have Event Data Recorders (EDR),” said Rayan. “Our experience with these EDRs make a huge difference in cases because they record information about the collision that can prove or disprove facts of the case.”
4. Seek Medical Attention
Many health insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for injuries suffered in car collisions. That’s a huge hole in your insurance considering that roughly a quarter of all accidental deaths in America result from road wrecks. “Unfortunately for the injured victim of an automobile crash, some insurance require full reimbursement before the victim sees a dime, like ERISA plans,” said Rayan. “We help the victims and their families to be made whole and work to protect the rights and benefits for our clients.”
5. Report the Collision to Your Insurance
While you have no obligation to speak with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, you do have an obligation to cooperate with your insurance company to provide basic information about the collision. “Speaking with the other driver’s insurance company will not help your case,” said Rayan. “We advise our clients to not speak with the at-fault driver’s insurance company until such time as they are finished treating or ready to make a formal demand for damages.”
6. Call Althauser Rayan Abbarno for a Free Consultation
Althauser Rayan Abbarno’s injury attorneys offer free consultations to victims of automobile collisions. “We want victims of automobile collisions to focus on their health,” said Abbarno. “We want to provide as much information about the process, so that potential clients can make informed decisions about their health and case.” Althauser Rayan Abbarno also offers free glove box injury cards to anyone wishing to pick it up at their Centralia and Olympia offices.
Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP is honored to assist their clients in a wide range of legal matters; including personal injury and worker’s compensation. Their experienced and knowledgeable attorneys are trial-ready and prepared to fight for your rights and benefits.
Contact Althauser Rayan Abbarno at (360) 736-1301 to schedule a FREE consultation. For more information, visit their website at CentraliaLaw.com.