During Thanksgiving weekend, millions of Americans will hit the roads, eager to spend time with family and friends. It’s one of the busiest travel times of the year, and unfortunately, that may mean more crashes.
As we prepare to embark on the Thanksgiving festivities, remember that safety on the road is the key to ensuring these moments remain joyous and memorable. Below are some safety tips to ensure a happy and accident-free Thanksgiving journey:
Plan Ahead: Before embarking on your Thanksgiving trip, meticulously plan your travel route. Utilize GPS navigation systems to stay informed about real-time traffic conditions and potential road closures. Identify alternative routes to circumvent congested areas and potential construction zones. Checking the upcoming weather forecast is also prudent to prepare for any adverse conditions. If your journey involves an overnight stay, pack efficiently, and ensure the car is stocked with snacks to keep everyone content during the drive.
Get Your Car a Check-Up: Prioritize your safety by ensuring your vehicle is in optimal condition. Schedule a thorough check-up with a reliable mechanic to inspect brakes, engine, lights, and other critical components. Ensure proper tire inflation, top up all fluids (including oil, coolant, and windshield washer fluid), and carry a spare set of car keys.
Rest Up: Combat fatigue by getting sufficient rest before embarking on your Thanksgiving drive, particularly for long distances. Consider sharing driving responsibilities with family members to prevent exhaustion. If drowsiness sets in, pull over at a safe location to rest or stretch your legs. Also keep in mind the average adult’s alertness dips and rises at different times of the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people are most sleepy between 2-4am and 1-3pm.
Buckle Up: Wearing seatbelts is not only a legal requirement but also a crucial safety measure. No matter the time of day, driving without a seat belt is deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, during the 2021 Thanksgiving weekend, 52% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes at night were unbuckled, and 46% of those killed in daytime crashes also were unbuckled. Ensure all passengers, including those in the back seat and pets, are securely buckled in before starting the engine.
Avoid Distractions: In a world dominated by technology, focus on the road is paramount. Keep your phone away while driving, reserving calls and texts for safe stops. Statistics show that roughly 10% of all fatal crashes involved distracted drivers. Of those distracted driving fatalities, 14% involved a cell phone. That means 86% of distracted driving fatalities didn’t involve a phone! Maintain a reasonable music volume, and if traveling with children or pets, provide activities to keep them occupied without causing distractions.
Don’t Tailgate: Maintain a safe following distance during heavy holiday traffic. Adhere to the 3-second rule by selecting a stationary object and counting to three after the vehicle in front passes it. If you reach the object before completing the count, adjust your speed to maintain a safer distance.
Stay Alert for Wildlife: A collision with some form of wildlife occurs, on average, every 39 minutes. When driving through rural or wooded areas, be cautious of animals crossing the road, especially during dusk and dawn. Slow down and avoid sudden movements that could lead to collisions with wildlife.
Be Prepared for Emergencies: Despite all precautions, emergencies can still occur. Equip yourself with a first-aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, reflective triangles, and essential tools for unforeseen breakdowns. Additionally, carry important contact numbers, including your insurance provider’s claims hotline and local emergency services.
Don’t Drive Under the Influence: It goes without saying, but it’s worth emphasizing, never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impaired driving accounts for a significant percentage of accidents during the holidays. In 2019, 10,142 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in the United States, representing nearly 29% of all traffic-related fatalities. Driving under the influence is a risk no one should take. Doing so can cause injury or death to the driver, passengers, and others on the road. The consequences could be life-altering.
By implementing the driving tips we’ve shared, you’re not just safeguarding your loved ones but also contributing to a holiday season filled with gratitude, joy, and worry-free travels.
At Smart Fleet, we understand the importance of staying safe, not just during Thanksgiving but throughout the entire holiday season. If you’re curious about additional measures to enhance your safety, consider exploring GPS tracking solutions and dash cams. These innovative tools can provide an extra layer of security, offering peace of mind as you navigate through the holidays.