When many Americans think about spending the holidays with parents or grandparents on the farm or ranch or in some other rural setting, they often conjure up thoughts of opening presents before the fire place or Christmas tree and enjoying a home cooked holiday meal, or maybe taking a walk in the woods or enjoying a hayride to experience the rural environment.

But contrary to the images of peaceful surroundings, the farm or ranch can be a dangerous place, especially for visiting friends and family that may not understand the potential hazards.

In fact, when it comes to accidents on the farm, even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Safety Council recognize that agriculture is the most hazardous industry in which to work, and in a large number of instances, it is many of the same types of dangers and risks that face visitors to rural America during the holidays.

For starters, travel experts say visitors to rural areas often fail to understand the dangers associated with exposure to the elements, like winter storms. From being trapped or lost in remote areas by winter storms to the more common risks of frost bite and exposure, being unaware or  under prepared for the elements can not only be dangerous, but life threatening.

 

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Perhaps the greatest risk however are the dangers with holiday travel in general. The holidays often offer less than optimum driving conditions and too often drivers are known to relax their guard against mixing alcohol and driving, making the dangers on the highway even greater.

In fact, U.S. Transportation officials recently announced that new federal traffic safety data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that the daily death toll from drunk driving crashes during the Christmas and New Year's holiday periods is significantly more than for the rest of the year.

"If you've had too much to drink this holiday season, you should find a safe and sober ride. Driving while drunk is not worth the risk," warns Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Officials point to NHTSA data that shows from over a test period of recent years an average of 35 fatalities occurred per day on America's roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol impaired driver. That number increases to 44 per day during the Christmas period and jumps to 52 per day over the New Year’s holiday. Thirty-eight percent of all traffic fatalities during the Christmas period occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver or motorcycle rider and 40 percent during the New Year’s period. This compares with about 31 percent for the year as a whole.