The Thanksgiving Holiday is finally upon us and everyone is looking forward to spending time with family during the extended weekend. However, with millions of Americans planning to travel on this weekend, it is important for travelers to be aware of the dangers on the roadways and to prepare for a safe holiday commute. The end of Daylight Savings Time and the onset of winter weather signifies that we are heading into the deadliest six weeks of the year on the roads.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports more trips per-day are made over the Thanksgiving Day holiday than even the year-end holiday travel period. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 400 motorists are expected to die on the nation’s roads over the long Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and an estimated 50,000 more will be injured seriously enough to seek medical attention. It seems that air travel may rise for the holiday as well, but the vast majority, 90 percent of travelers, hit the roads to meet with family and friends. More North Carolinians are expected to travel by car this Thanksgiving weekend due largely in part to a dramatic drop in gas prices statewide.
There are many things to keep in mind when traveling on this holiday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drunk driving was involved in 40 percent of all fatal accidents during the Thanksgiving holiday last year. However, drunk driving is not the only issue for drivers to be concerned with. Many travelers must commute through areas with only two lane roads to go to and from gatherings. Dangerous head-on accidents are all too common on these narrow roadways. Drowsiness is also a significant contributor to car accidents. During the holiday season, many people drive late at night and for many miles, and sleepiness can cause a driver to lose track of the road during travel.
Here some tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe on the roads while traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday:
- Make sure the vehicle is in good working order with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full. Clean the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows;
- Be sure you have blankets, water and other necessities in case of an emergency;
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up;
- Don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who won’t drink;
- Be well rested and alert. If the driver is tired, stop and get some rest;
- Give full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones;
- Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase the chance of being in a collision;
- If traveling long distances, make frequent stops and rotate drivers if necessary;
- Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.;
- If car trouble develops, pull off the road as far as possible;
- Plan your trip before you leave. Traffic is likely to be the most congested on interstates, but sometimes taking an alternate route that may look like a longer trip, may be the best way.