Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends, reflect on what we are grateful for, and enjoy a delicious meal. However, before you sit down at the dinner table, you are probably one of the millions of Americans who have to travel for the holiday. Whether that means driving five miles to your parents’ home across town or 50 miles to enjoy Thanksgiving at a friend’s home, this is one of the busiest travel days of the year. It is estimated that over 50 million Americans will be hitting the road for Thanksgiving.
In addition to the increased traffic, there are a number of travel hazards you should prepare for, and you should take necessary steps to prevent a serious car accident. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of car accidents on Thanksgiving.
The more vehicles on the road, the more likely it is that a car accident can happen. In addition, when traveling on busy highways, passenger vehicles are sharing the road with large commercial trucks, which have large blind spots and require significantly more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop.
Holiday travelers often become impatient when traffic slows to a crawl. As a result, they are more likely to tailgate, weave in and out of lanes, and cut off other drivers. All of these dangerous behaviors can increase the risk of a serious accident.
In addition to the actual Thanksgiving holiday, people often get together at restaurants, bars, and homes to catch up with friends and family who are visiting. Unfortunately, that means that people are likely to have a few drinks and get behind the wheel. Even a couple of beers or glasses of wine can cause impairments, including reduced coordination, slower reaction times, and impaired visual and auditory processing.
If you are driving home after overeating, you are likely tired and worn out from traveling earlier in the day and eating a large meal. Unfortunately, people do not realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. When you are extremely fatigued, you are less able to react quickly to another vehicle or an animal that darts across the street. If you are not spending the night, make sure that you have a designated driver who will not consume any alcohol, or you can arrange for a ride home with a rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft.
If your vehicle has not been properly maintained, there is an increased risk of breaking down, particularly if you are driving during inclement weather conditions. The weather in late November can range from mild and sunny to cold and snowy, and it is important that your vehicle is prepared for all types of inclement weather.
It is highly recommended that you have your vehicle inspected by a skilled mechanic before any long road trip. A mechanic will check the tires, the brakes, the lights and ensure that all of the fluids are topped off. If any repairs need to be made, make sure that they are taken care of before traveling for Thanksgiving.
What Safety Tips Should I Follow When Traveling for Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous days for driving. Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to arrive at your destination safely. The following are important safety tips that all motorists should keep in mind if they plan to travel for the holiday.
Avoid Peak Travel Times
The busiest travel days are the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following. If you can avoid traveling during those times, you can avoid some of the heaviest traffic. However, you should still assume it is going to take longer than usual to arrive at your destination.
If you are in a rush, you are more likely to become frustrated and engage in unsafe driving behaviors, like tailgating, speeding, and cutting off other drivers. Leave early and make pit stops every two hours or every 100 miles to avoid becoming drowsy.
If you do get behind schedule, let your friends and family know that you are running late. It is better to show up a few minutes late than to get into an accident because you were speeding or tailgating.
Avoid Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents throughout the year. With the increased number of motorists on the road over Thanksgiving and the anticipation of the holiday weekend, it is easy to become distracted by a text, a phone call, or by young children who are bickering in the back seat. Put the phone away, and keep your attention focused on the road at all times. If you need to make a phone call or check a text message, pull over to a safe spot.
Keep an Emergency Kit
Your car could break down when you least expect it, or you can become stranded in a storm. Always keep a well-stocked emergency kit in the car, particularly when you are traveling long distances. An emergency kit should include:
- Properly inflated spare tire
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Bottled water
- Shovel and ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Extra blankets, warm socks, and a change of clothing
- Nonperishable snacks, like nuts, dried fruit, crackers, and granola bars
- Kitty litter for traction
- First-aid kit that contains bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, a thermometer, and cold compresses
Get Plenty of Sleep
Drowsy driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents during the Thanksgiving break. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road for a long trip.
Use Extra Caution Around Trucks
When traffic is heavy, there is likely to be a number of commercial trucks on the road as well. These massive vehicles have very large blind spots, they make extremely wide turns, and they require a significant amount of road space to slow down or come to a complete stop. Therefore, you are urged to use extreme caution and stay out of the truck’s blind spots. If you cannot see the truck driver in their rear-view mirror, it is unlikely that the truck driver can see you in their blind spot.
All motorists are urged to wear a seat belt at all times, including passengers riding in the back seat. Wearing a seat belt is the simplest and most effective way to prevent serious injuries and fatalities in a car accident. Children should also be properly restrained in a car seat that is recommended for their height, weight, and age.
Follow the Rules of the Road
Traffic laws are in place for a reason, and all motorists are expected to follow them. That means following the speed limit, making the necessary adjustments for inclement weather, and avoiding unsafe driving behaviors, like tailgating, aggressive driving, speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Provide Legal Help to Those Injured in Thanksgiving Car Accidents
If you are seriously injured in a car accident over Thanksgiving break, do not hesitate to contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we understand how stressful and traumatic a serious car accident can be, and we can help you. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 757-352-2237 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.