The National Safety Council estimates 433 people may be killed and another 49,400 may be seriously injured in car crashes during the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday period. The Council is urging additional caution because in 2017, Thanksgiving was the second deadliest holiday on the roads, trailing only the Fourth of July. Alcohol is a persistent factor in fatal crashes. Historical trends show that on average, more than one-third of deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday period involve alcohol-impaired drivers.
Since the day before Thanksgiving is known for its high volumes of both travel and alcohol consumption, the Council is warning drivers to be particularly vigilant at the start of the holiday period, which runs from 6:00pm on Wednesday, November 21st to 11:59pm on Sunday, November 25th.
“Everyone wants a holiday to remember, but not for the wrong reasons,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Let’s keep our holiday gatherings out of the emergency room by making smart decisions that don’t involve drinking and driving. Plan ahead so you don’t put yourself or others at risk on the road.”
Alcohol impairment is not the only safety threat to drivers. Additional tips for safe travel include:
• Prepare your vehicle for long-distance travel by bringing it into our shop for checks of your tire pressure and tread depth, brakes, car battery, wipers, fluids, and more. Making sure your car is in good working order can prevent an unexpected break down and make your trip more enjoyable.
• Fuel up — a full tank of gas can go a long way to ensure you don’t become stranded during your travels
• Don’t overload your vehicle — check the load capacity on your vehicle, which is typically printed on a label inside the driver’s side door, to be sure you aren’t overloading with luggage and passengers.
• Buckle up on every trip in every seating position — Seat and safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45%
• Make sure children are properly restrained in the appropriate seats for their height, weight and age
• Plan ahead by setting up your navigation system or phone’s GPS app with your destination information before you get on the road
• Bring your phone charger — while new vehicles have touch screens, many vehicles on the road still don’t. Make sure you have your charging cords for your smartphone readily available, and consider storing a paper map in your vehicle as well. If you find yourself rerouted due to a traffic accident, weather, etc. you’ll have the tools to help you find an alternative route.
• Pack plenty of snacks and water
• Drive attentively and disconnect – even hands-free cell phone use is risky
• Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
• Keep your vehicle’s windows and roof clear of ice and snow to ensure that you have maximum visibility and are not creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you
• Keep a safe following distance. If you drive during the day or in good weather conditions, it’s best to leave a three-second gap between you and the car in front of you. If you’re driving in extreme weather conditions, like heavy rain or snow, double the following distance to six seconds. By maintaining a safe following distance, you give yourself an escape route if something goes wrong in front of you.
• Slow down — with the extra highway congestion due to holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of space cushion and reduce your speed.