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Tips to stay safe during Thanksgiving travel

While there are several laws on the books to help encourage safe driving and prevent accidents, there are still many people who are getting into serious motor vehicle accidents and suffering because of them. In New York City alone, the year 2014 brought over 66,000 motor vehicle crashes. More than 45,000 were injured in these crashes, and 239 people were killed. There are various contributing factors to crashes, such as the use of alcohol, distracted driving, fatigued driving, driving in the dark and weather related issues. One of the times when all of these factors may be at play is during the holidays, which starts with Thanksgiving.

Why Thanksgiving is dangerous

While it may surprise some, Thanksgiving has become one of the most dangerous holidays on the road, and the day before the holiday has earned the nickname of "Black Wednesday" because of the many alcohol related accidents. While distracted driving due to cell phone use and other distractions continues to be a problem, alcohol still causes many fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calculated that between 2001-2005, alcohol impaired drivers were responsible for an average of 36 fatalities each day, however holidays caused those averages to go up even more. Christmas holidays pulled averages up to 45 per day, and the New Year bumped the totals up to 54. Overall, there are more DUI arrests between Thanksgiving and New Years, and Thanksgiving weekend has been shown to put the most drivers on the road.

Staying safe this holiday season

One of the most important precautions you can take to stay safe is to stay sober yourself, and encourage those who you ride with to do the same. However, no matter how "good" you are, you cannot be sure of what everyone else on the road will be doing. Here are some safety measures you can control.

  • Wear your seatbelt, and make sure your passengers do as well
  • Drive at the correct speed according to the limit posted and weather and traffic conditions
  • Take time to review expected weather at various points to your journey
  • Allow for plenty of time to reach your destination, including any necessary stops
  • Keep your vehicle clean, especially the lights, so that you are able to see others and be seen
  • Plan driving trips when you are the most alert, avoid driving overnight if you can and pull over and rest if you feel fatigued or drowsy
  • Make sure your vehicle is in ready for the journey, including keeping plenty of gas in the car, and an emergency prep kit on hand

Some safety measures may seem obvious, but due to the increased number of car accidents during the holiday season and Thanksgiving in particular, you can never be too safe. Although you can't control the actions of others, taking the proper precautions can make it more likely that you will reach your destination safely. Try to remind yourself, friends and family members to follow these safety tips during travel and have a wonderful holiday with loved ones this year.

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