If you’re among the nearly 55 million Americans hitting the road this Thanksgiving holiday, you’re going to experience some crowded roadways. Taking a road trip of more than 50 miles always comes with challenges. Preserving your safety (and that of your passengers) is priority number one.
America’s roadways become more dangerous every year. Americans have a 1 in 63 chance of getting into a car accident.
There are things you can do to minimize the risk. Following these 5 tips for safe Thanksgiving travel can get you to your destination so you can enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.
#1 – Avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving contributes to 9 percent of all fatal automobile accidents in the U.S. Another 15 percent of distracted driving crashes cause significant injuries. From eating while driving to talking or texting on your cell phone, turning your attention away from your driving for even a few seconds can have disastrous results.
The longer your travel time before arriving at your destination, the more tempted you can be to multitask behind the wheel. However, it’s not worth the risk to your safety and of others on the roadways.
If you must use your cell phone, pull off the road in a safe place. Never try to eat while driving, even if you think it can save you time on the roadway. Even if you order takeout, pull over and take the time to eat it before getting on your way again.
#2 – Don’t speed
Speeding is the number one factor in a third of all fatal accidents each year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). It can be tempting to drive above the recommended speed limit, especially if you are worried about being late for a family gathering or other holiday event.
It’s better to arrive late than not at all, so resist the temptation to go faster than is safe for the road conditions. At a speed of 60 miles per hour, it takes roughly 140 feet to come to a full stop after hitting the brake. Be sure to follow the speed limit and practice following a safe distance from the vehicle in front of yours.
#3 – Never drive under the influence
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has become known as “Blackout Wednesday” – or “Drinksgiving” – because of its popularity for alcohol consumption. Traveling during this period can increase the likelihood of sharing the roadways with drunk drivers.
If you plan to celebrate Wednesday evening, drink responsibly by not getting behind the wheel of your car. Also, never get into a car with someone who is planning to drive after drinking. Make alternative arrangements like hailing a cab or using a ride share service.
Avoid impaired drivers when possible if you encounter them on the roadways. Note the make and model of their vehicle (and license plate if possible) and call 911 to report them so the police can get them off the roadways.
#4 – Practice some patience
No one likes to get stuck in traffic, especially when traveling for the holidays. The likelihood of experiencing heavy traffic and delays on your journey is high during the Thanksgiving holiday. Practicing some patience can help avoid incidents of road rage.
If you encounter another driver experiencing road rage, call 911 immediately. Never try to engage with the person, especially if their anger seems directed toward you.
#5 – Take frequent breaks
Traveling long distances can make you tired mentally and physically. Taking frequent breaks can help prevent drowsiness behind the wheel, which leads to 100,000 crashes, 71,00 injuries, and 1,500 fatalities each year on U.S. roadways.
If you’re traveling with a passenger of legal driving age, take turns behind the wheel. Never rely on caffeinated beverages to give you the stamina to keep going if you’re becoming tired. Caffeine provides a temporary energy boost but is not a long-term replacement for proper rest.
Protecting your rights in a traffic accident
If you’re the victim of a careless driver during the Thanksgiving holiday, you have rights. It’s important not to make a mistake after an accident that can limit your ability to sue for fair compensation.
Contacting a personal injury lawyer in Albuquerque is one of the first steps you should take to protect your rights after a traffic accident. Never talk to the insurance company for the at-fault driver or agree to any kind of settlement without first speaking to a personal injury attorney.