If you're like many Americans, you're planning to hop in your car and travel somewhere special for Thanksgiving this year. Most Americans drive at least 50 miles to reach their Thanksgiving holiday destinations, and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is considered to be the busiest travel day of the year.
Because of this increase in traffic, the possibility for bad weather conditions, and general holiday stress, the likelihood of an auto accident also increases dramatically. Statistics shows that between 8 pm on Wednesday and 3 am Thanksgiving morning, the rate of car accidents will increase by about 17 percent. Distracted driving, drunk driving, night driving impairments, and speeding play a huge role in this devastating rate.
Follow these driving safety tips to avoid Thanksgiving roadway accidents this year.
Don't Drink and Be Aware of Drunk Drivers
In recent years, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has been transformed into "Blackout Wednesday," one of the most popular drinking days of the year. If you plan to celebrate Wednesday night, make alternate arrangements, such as a train or bus, to travel to your holiday destination on Thanksgiving Day. Even if you have no intention of drinking alcohol, be mindful of impaired drivers who may be on the road next to you. Use extra caution and pay extra attention to the vehicles around you and the weather conditions.
Don't Speed or Be in a Rush
Across the board, one of the most common causes of car accidents is speeding. Even if you are running late to a family gathering, drive slowly, cautiously, and responsibly. It's always better to arrive late than never at all because you got into an accident.
Prepare for Heavy Traffic and Have Patience
Over 40 million Americans are traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday, so there's a good chance a few of them will be traveling on the same roads as you are. As you're packing up your car with holiday goodies, don't forget to leave road rage behind and pack your patience.
Take Frequent Breaks and Stay Alert
Drowsy driving is another common cause of auto accidents, especially around the holidays. Many people have to go into work all day on Wednesday and then plan a long drive that evening to arrive for festivities on Thanksgiving Day. If you are traveling with a passenger, take turns driving and take frequent breaks to stay alert. Don't rely upon caffeinated beverages to keep you awake, but rather take and exit and pull off the road if you're feeling sleepy.
Put Down the Cell Phone
Cell phone use is dangerous at any time of the year, but given all of these factors, it's even more of a hazard during the holidays. If you need to check in with your friends of family, pull off the road to a safe place before returning a call or text.
From all of us at First Time Driver and the American Safety Council, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!