Turkey, stuffing, food comas and Black Friday sales – that’s right, it’s the week of Thanksgiving which means it’s also one of the most dangerous weeks to be on the road. As a Personal Injury law firm, we see and hear a lot of stories that could come right out of the Final Destination movie franchise. Because of that, Thanksgiving travel safety is at the top of our mind this week.
With this being one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, we compiled 10 easy Thanksgiving travel safety tips to help you keep yourself and your family safe this year.
- Check tires, wipers, wiper fluid, radiator fluid and battery.
Driving during the holidays is dangerous enough with impaired drivers and potentially icy conditions – don’t add to it by missing these items.
a. Your tire tread, type and pressure all make a big difference in your ability to avoid a collision. Use a penny to check your tread. If Lincoln’s head is visible, you need new tires. During the winter, it’s highly advised to switch to winter tires made from a softer compound that won’t harden in cold conditions and have special tread patterns for icy conditions. Cold temperatures will reduce the air pressure in your tires which reduces your ability to stop and also adds more wear.
b. While most people don’t have the tools to mount and balance new snow tires at home, your windshield wipers and fluid two items almost everybody can handle. Make sure your wiper fluid is full and your wipers are in good condition. Being able to see where you’re driving is pretty important.
c. If you don’t have enough or the right coolant, your heater won’t work or worse – your radiator could crack. Make sure you have enough coolant before heading out.
d. Have your battery checked to make sure it has enough cold cranking amps to not leave you stranded somewhere. Most auto parts stores will do it for free, so if you’re getting more washer fluid,
While these aren’t things you can do while you’re driving, they’re a great way to keep your family safe this Thanksgiving and all winter long. Do these things early this week before stores and shops close for the holiday.
- Take your time and don’t rush
Plan your trip but start with loading your vehicle. A lot of people rush to get to their destination because loading their vehicle with food and kids took longer than expected.
Pack the night before and have your bags by the front door ready to be loaded in the car. If you’ll be traveling with dishes, find all of your potholders, lids and accessories before it’s time to leave. Regardless when you start your Thanksgiving travel, anticipate hitting traffic.
- Get rest to stay alert
Drowsy driving is a dangerous condition for you, your passengers and other vehicles on the road – especially when your travel during Thanksgiving.
Drowsy driving is comparable to drunk and distracted driving because it’s so dangerous. Don’t rely on coffee or energy drinks to stay awake, and instead get some extra shut eye before you hit the road.
If you think you’re tired on the way to eat your Thanksgiving meal, imagine how tired you’ll be when all the tryptophan is in your system after the big Thanksgiving meal!
- Avoid travel during the busiest times
Get to your destination and back home safely by getting on the road when the fewest vehicles will be around you. According to some insight from Google, the worst times to be on the road leading up to Turkey Time will be Wednesday morning, Wednesday between 1-3pm and Thursday early morning between 1a-3a.
Sunday afternoon seems to be another time when traffic picks up across the nation.
You can look up your state and city to see other trends from Google by clicking on the image or going here.
- Buckle up!
Over half of the people aged 13-44 who die in car accidents aren’t wearing seat belts. This may be the simplest way to protect yourself and your family before putting the transmission into Drive. Click it or Ticket.
- No puffy coats on children in car seats
This may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t buckle your child in their car seat if they’re wearing a bulky winter jacket. Most parents will adjust the harness to accommodate the jacket, but if there was an accident, the coat would compress giving your child enough room to be injured or even come out of the harness altogether!
You can place a blanket or their coat on their lap to keep them warm during the drive instead of having them wear it. Consumer Reports wrote a good article last year about this very topic. https://www.consumerreports.org/car-seats/the-dangers-of-winter-coats-and-car-seats/
- Put the cell phone down
Distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. This is becoming an epidemic and is seen on every highway throughout the country.
At 70 mph, by the time you finish this sentence, you would travel the length of a football field completely blind.
Whatever the text message is, it can wait until you’ve stopped.
- Plug in your destination (and stops) before you start driving
Enter your destination into the map app of your choice before you embark on your road trip. If you’re making stops along the way, many apps, including Google Maps, allow you to include stops along your route making it easier than ever to map your course.
- Designate your driver
Celebrating a holiday with family and friends often means consuming adult beverages. Decide who will drive home before arriving at your destination. It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, the Thanksgiving meal in jail isn’t worth the price tag.
- Watch for impaired drivers
Just because you’re taking steps to be safe doesn’t mean others are doing the same. Keep an eye out for drivers that could be drunk, drowsy, or distracted. They are all equally as dangerous to you and your family.
In Washington, Wyoming and Nebraska, you can report drunk or impaired drivers by dialing 9-1-1.
If you see an impaired driver in Colorado, keep your distance and if you feel the need, report them by dialing *277. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/csp/report-duiduid-driver
If you see an impaired driver in Oregon, again, keep your distance and if you feel the need, report them by dialing 800-24DRUNK
We hope you found these Thanksgiving travel safety tips helpful and they help keep you and your family safe. We’ll have more Thanksgiving tips tomorrow that will focus on Kitchen safety, but until then, what travel tips do you have?