Almost 51 million Americans travelled at least 50 miles from their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones in 2017. That was over a 3% increase from the previous year and growth can be expected to continue. Thanksgiving is the second most popular holiday of the year, so obviously more traffic translates to an increased risk of having an auto accident. No one can control what other drivers on the road do. But there are some simple but effective safe driving tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe behind the wheel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and possibly help you avoid needing to contact a personal injury attorney.
Fuel Up and Prepare Your Vehicle
With so many people on the road, traffic is likely to bottleneck and you may be surprised to discover gas stations are closed early. Fueling prior to leaving for your holiday destination helps to offset unexpected delays. Even if you think you have enough to get there, play it safe and top off. It can save unnecessary extra trips out later to find an open fueling station and reduce the risks of being involved in an auto accident. Make sure your vehicle is in proper working order as well. Big issues should be attended but so should small matters. Check the engine, wipers, headlights, top off fluids, check brakes and tires, pack an emergency kit, and make sure the kids have plenty to keep them occupied for the trip.
Pad Your Schedule
Extra cars on the road translate to extra potential problems. Traffic bottlenecks and backups can lead to road rage and a potential auto accident. Set coast if necessary and take plenty of rest breaks. There’s no need to drive when tired and doing so will likely cause more trouble than it’s worth. So be sure to leave early if possible and pad the schedule an hour or more. If you have to pull off to rest or grab a room for the night, simply call the hosts of the dinner. Chances are they’d much rather you be late than never make it there at all.
Be Patient and Respectful on the Road
Heavy traffic can make even the most defensive driver batty. But that’s no time to lose your head. Keep the moods in check. Watch and limit your speed. Avoid sudden lane changes, tailgating, and unnecessary road rage. Always use your blinker, maintain extra space, and stick to the correct lane for your speed and exit needs.
Avoid Unnecessary Distractions
Technology can play a big part in getting you to your destination quickly and safely. A good GPS or map app can help you avoid construction and traffic or locate open gas stations, restaurants, and rest spots along the way. But you don’t need to operate them yourself, nor should you. Assign someone in the car to be the tech keeper. They can then notify of weather or traffic changes, answer calls or texts, send trip updates, and help navigate necessary stops so the driver can focus on the road.
Assign a Designated Driver
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the riskiest times of year for being involved in an auto accident. In fact, between 2012 and 2016, more than 800 drunk driving fatalities occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend alone. If you know you’re going to be drinking alcohol or even assume that’s a possibility, simply assign a designated driver for the holiday weekend. A spouse, friend, partner, licensed college kid, or sibling will do the trick. Or add to the budget and call car hires such as Uber or Lyft to get you back to safety and help avoid needing to contact a personal injury attorney.