Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and families throughout Osceola County will be eating delicious food, giving thanks, and watching football on the couch. But with all the festivities comes something that’s not so fun — Thanksgiving traffic. How can Kissimmee families stay safe traveling to and from their destination this holiday?
The Florida Highway Patrol is already preparing for holiday traffic, and for good reason. This year’s Thanksgiving traffic is predicted to be the worst in years. 48.7 million Americans are projected to be journeying 50 miles or more from home this holiday, according to the American Automobile Association. This adds up to be the largest number of Thanksgiving travelers since 2007.
So, what should families in Osceola County know before hitting the road this Thanksgiving holiday season?
Know Your Route Ahead of Time and Check Traffic Reports
Be sure to know how you’re getting to your destination, as well as an alternate route or two in case of heavy traffic or accidents. In Osceola County, troopers will be focusing their efforts on Interstate 4, U.S. Highway 192 and State Road 417, FHP Sgt. Kim Montes told Osceola News-Gazette, but car crashes can still occur. You should expect heavy congestion on any of these highways, but check traffic reports before leaving in case a serious accident has occurred that would require you to take an alternate route.
Leave Earlier (or Later) If You Can
If it is possible, try to leave extra early or late to avoid peak holiday travel times and reduce your risk of accidents. The evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving have large increases in traffic, according to data collected on the week of Thanksgiving 2014 by popular navigation app Waze.
An increase of 62.9 percent in accident alerts also occurred on Wednesday evening, according to Waze, suggesting that this evening before Thanksgiving is particular dangerous for motorists. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is another difficult travel day, with peak traffic occurring between 1 and 6 p.m.
The bottom line? A Thursday - Friday itinerary may help you to avoid heavy traffic.
Keep Your Vehicle Properly Maintained
The last thing anyone wants on Thanksgiving is for their car to break down on the road. It’s important to bring your car to the shop for regular maintenance, but if you haven’t visited your mechanic in a while, be sure to get your car and tires inspected before making a Thanksgiving trip, advises the AAA. This is especially important if your Thanksgiving travel involves a particularly long drive.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Thanksgiving is a festive time to let loose and have fun with the family, but sadly, many people don’t plan for a responsible and safe drive home after the party has ended. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a particular dangerous one for drivers as rates of drunk driving spike dramatically.
At least 40% of passengers killed on Thanksgiving were involved in crashes with drunk drivers, according to data collected during Holiday Season 2012 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you plan to drink alcohol during the Thanksgiving holiday this year, decide on a designated driver who will stay sober, or better yet, stay over the night to sleep it off.
Make Sure Everyone Is Buckled Up
Some motorists and passengers may be tempted to take off their seat belt for their comfort after a heavy Thanksgiving meal, but this is a big mistake. 60 percent of passengers killed on Thanksgiving 2012 were not wearing their seat belt, according to NHTSA's Holiday Season 2012 study.
It’s also the law. In our state, any front seat passengers must wear their seat belt, as well as all passengers under 18 years old, according to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. This means that families traveling to and from Thanksgiving dinner should all buckle up both for their safety and to avoid a ticket.
But Accidents Can Still Happen This Thanksgiving
Despite leaving early and driving defensively, accidents can still happen in Kissimmee during the holiday season when another motorist makes careless choices on the road. If you or someone you love was hurt in a car accident caused by another driver, we may be able to help.
Read more to learn how our car accident attorneys in Kissimmee will fight to try and get you the compensation you need and deserve following a serious car accident. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.