As Thanksgiving comes around the corner, many of us are excited to see our families and friends and enjoy a few days off from work. Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel periods in the US, with 43.3 million people going home or visiting friends and family for the holiday. With that in mind, it is important that you be aware of common travel risks. Remember our helpful driving tips so that you and your family reach your destination safely and enjoy the holidays.
Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings
DUI arrests are the highest during Thanksgiving weekend because many drivers celebrate the holidays at parties and gatherings. Between 1998 and 2008, there was an average of 572 deaths annually in the US during Thanksgiving weekend. Many people also drive for long periods of time to get to their final destination. Studies show that being awake for 18 hours causes impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. In most states, the legal allowance for BAC is 0.08%.
It’s important to note that there are an increased number of reckless drivers on the road this time of year. As people rush from work to holiday plans, only to sit in traffic and encounter a higher than normal volume of cars on the road, tempers and stress levels are sure to be high. The risk of getting into a car crash also increases dramatically at night. Over Thanksgiving weekend, 64% of vehicle occupants that are fatally injured are injured in nighttime crashes. You may be involved in an accident, even if you drive as safely as possible. Therefore, stay sharp while driving towards your destination, and make sure you switch with another person in the car as soon as you start to feel drowsy. Also remember – it’s not only illegal to drink and drive but also dangerous for you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.
Check Your Car
Checking your car doesn’t just mean filling it up with gas. Make sure you are familiar with your car’s capabilities. Get your car checked and tuned up beforehand. Simple things like checking your tires for air, oil levels, brake fluid, wiper fluid, a working battery and keeping a spare tire can ensure that you don’t have any easily preventable issues during your journey. For do-it-yourselfers, here is a great place to find the basic things you can check yourself before taking your car on a long trip. If you are not the do-it-yourself type, a quick trip to the local auto shop for a tune up will help get you on your way without any problems.
If you know your car is defective or is a model that has been recalled, find another mode of transportation. If you have more than one car, compare the two and choose the one better suited for your journey.
Seat Belts Save Lives
People often ignore seat belt laws, especially in the back seat, but they have good reason not to. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that, in 2013, 21,132 lives were saved because of seat belts. If everyone had worn their seat belts, on every trip that year, the number would have gone up to 23,932 lives. Wearing a seat belt can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45%. Traffic this weekend will be heavy, and people are eager to get home, so wear your seat belt to reduce your risk of getting fatally injured during a crash. It takes little effort to buckle-up and it saves lives.
Be Prepared for Anything
The longer your car journey, the greater the chance of something going wrong. While you should be prepared with a full tank of gas and food for the journey, you should also be ready for what happens if you run out of both. Always remember to carry a map if you are traveling someplace without cell reception, and emergency supplies such as mobile phone chargers, flashlights, blankets, emergency markers, snow shovels, and water. If you lose your way or become stranded in a snow bank, do not sit in your car for a long period of time with the car turned on and the windows rolled up. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If it is cold, and you have no choice, clear any obstructions away from the tailpipe and do not run the car continuously for a long period of time – just long enough to get warm.
While safety rules may be the least exciting part of the holiday, it helps make sure that you stay safe and are able to celebrate with your friends and family. Always practice safe driving and enjoy the holidays. To learn about your legal options following a car accident, visit our car accident webpage.