The number of car accidents typically increases during the holiday season. It may be tempting to blame this increase on winter weather, but weather is not always the culprit.

Drivers in southern California are unlikely to encounter icy roadways; however, they are likely to experience the three factors that most commonly lead to increased traffic accidents over the holidays.

1. Lack of sleep

The holidays are a busy time, and many people report getting less sleep during the holiday season than during the rest of the year. Unfortunately, driving drowsy impairs judgment and reaction times to the same extent as using alcohol or other substances. Drivers who do not get enough sleep are significantly more likely to have an accident.

2. Intoxication

The holiday season often means lots of parties and events, and the festivities often involve alcohol. Alcohol consumption and binge drinking are highest during the holidays: For some people, the air of celebration causes them to drink more; for others, the holidays are a depressing time and alcohol is a means to self-medicate. Whatever the cause, intoxicated drivers are a major factor in increased traffic accidents.

3. Increased stress levels

Many people report increased stress levels over the holidays. There are so many places to be and things to do, and this is especially apparent on the roads. Not having enough time to get from place to place leads drivers to feel hurried and agitated. Distracted drivers may be mentally running through their to-do lists rather than focusing on the road. Car accidents tend to cause traffic backups and delays, which only increases the problem.

A traffic accident is a holiday memory that no one wants to experience. By staying sober, focused and well-rested during the holidays, drivers can reduce holiday accidents and help everyone have a safer new year.