With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may be already planning out your menu, sending out invites to friends and family, or thinking about the long drive you have to make. If you do plan to travel by car for Thanksgiving, you should prepare well ahead of time.
Each year, the National Safety Council (NSC) and other organizations warn everyone about the dangers of driving for Thanksgiving events. On average, over 50 million people travel for Thanksgiving, mostly by car. Holiday traffic also means more road dangers and car accidents. Listed below are some important driving safety tips you can follow if you plan to travel for Thanksgiving.
Avoid Driving on Thanksgiving Eve
There are many reasons why car accidents surge around Thanksgiving. The night before Thanksgiving, which is known as Thanksgiving Eve, is especially dangerous. People are looking forward to the time off and want to celebrate as soon as possible. It is also the first heavy drinking weekend of the holiday season. Thanksgiving Eve is promoted by many bars and restaurants. Adding more to the danger, it is when college students come home, and many cannot wait to start drinking with their friends and family.
It is wise not to travel on Thanksgiving Eve unless your drive starts and finishes earlier in the day. Otherwise, you will be sharing the road with partygoers as well as people returning home from work. It is safer to wait until early Thanksgiving morning to start your trip.
Younger, inexperienced motorists also need to understand the risk of driving around Thanksgiving. New drivers should not be out on Thanksgiving Eve, and they should have curfews whether they are driving or not. As a parent, you should know who they will be with and where they are going. A group of teenagers driving at night on Thanksgiving Eve is dangerous. You can offer to drive them where they need to go instead.
Do Not Drink and Drive
One of the main dangers of traveling for Thanksgiving is that more drunk drivers will be on the roadways. People tend to consume more alcohol on holidays and long weekends. If you can, avoid driving on nights where drinking will be likely, such as Thanksgiving Eve.
If you plan to drink, make sure you plan ahead of time of how you will get home safely. Arrange to have a designated driver, or call a rideshare service to get home.
Plan Your Route
Millions of people will be traveling for Thanksgiving, which means significantly more traffic. More people on the roadways means more car accidents. You should avoid peak travel times; this will make it less dangerous to drive.
Before hitting the road, take some time to plan out your route. The main highways will likely be congested, but you may be able to find an alternate route that has less traffic.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Prepared
Also, you should make sure your vehicle gets maintenance prior to your trip. Test the battery, wiper blades, and check tire pressure and tread depth, fill up the gas tank, and make sure that you have enough wiper fluid and oil.
Even if you perform thorough maintenance on your vehicle, you could still break down or get stuck. Always have an emergency kit in your car, and check it once every six months to make sure you have enough supplies. There should be a small shovel and traction mats and cat litter or sand if you live in an area that could get ice or snow. Also, pack some blankets, hats, gloves, and flashlights with fresh batteries. A well-equipped emergency kit will also have drinking water, non-perishable snacks, extra clothing, basic hand tools, an extra cellphone charger, and some paper towels or rags.
Take Rest Breaks
Drowsy driving is also responsible for many Thanksgiving car accidents. Many people opt to travel by car, especially since the coronavirus pandemic started. This means that more people will be driving on long road trips. Drivers also get drowsy after eating large meals. After Thanksgiving dinner, you might feel too tired to drive.
If you are going on a long road trip for Thanksgiving, you will want to take at least one rest break. Park somewhere safe, and walk outside to stretch your legs and to get some fresh air. Your passengers should do this as well, and one of them should drive to help give you a break.
This is a good time to have a snack and some coffee or tea. Drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving because the symptoms can be similar. Some signs of drowsy driving include a lack of focus, impatience, aggression, and poor judgment.
Lock Up Your Vehicle
If you do pull over to take a break from driving during your Thanksgiving travel, make sure to lock up your vehicle to protect your belongings. Do not leave anything valuable in the car, and never leave small children or pets unattended.
It is not easy to stay patient in heavy traffic, but speeding, weaving in and out of lanes, tailgating, and other reckless maneuvers can lead to accidents. Even if you follow the rules of the road, it is quite possible that you will see other drivers behaving negligently.
If you see an aggressive driver, you might be tempted to retaliate, but speeding up to catch them, cutting them off, or engaging in other aggressive driving behaviors is extremely dangerous and could lead to road rage or an accident. Instead, do not get overwhelmed, and stay as far away from them as you can. If you can, try to note the year, model, and color of the vehicle. You should also call the authorities if you feel unsafe. If possible, a passenger may be able to snap a picture of their license plate to share with law enforcement officers.
Look at the Weather Forecast
Poor weather conditions can also play a part in Thanksgiving car accidents. While some regions have dry and sunny weather, other areas experience heavy rain, ice, snow, and high winds. Inclement weather can reduce traction and decrease visibility. High winds can cause cars and large trucks to swerve.
If you can, look at the weather forecast before you drive. This way, you can see if there will be inclement weather. If road conditions look poor, it is best not to drive.
Prepare for More Traffic
There will be more cars on the road, but there will also be more commercial trucks. Drivers have to be extra careful around large commercial vehicles. Besides giving them ample room, leave your turn signal on longer than usual when passing, and ensure that they are completely clear of your vehicle before you change lanes.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Advocate for Safe Driving on Thanksgiving Break
Even the most cautious drivers can end up in car accidents on Thanksgiving. If you have been hurt because of another driver’s reckless actions, our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help. We will help you hold the at-fault driver accountable. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or complete our online form today to schedule a free consultation and to learn more. We are located in Virginia Beach, and we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.