Millions of people across the U.S. will travel by road to go somewhere for the Thanksgiving weekend, whether that be to visit with family and friends or simply to go on vacation. However, with millions of cars on the road over the weekend, that means an increased risk of accidents. Since Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of gathering and celebration, we can all take steps to help keep the roads a little safer when traveling over Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanksgiving Weekend Travel Stats
As many as 110 million Americans plan to travel some distance to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2021. Of those, nearly 70 percent plan to travel by car, with the rest traveling by public transportation (bus, commuter rail), train, or plane. The National Safety Council has found that an average Thanksgiving sees between 400 and 600 road fatalities, with another 40,000 to 70,000 injuries from auto accidents. Of Thanksgiving day road fatalities, between 30 and 50 percent of all fatal accidents involved alcohol impairment. In addition, most people killed in road accidents on Thanksgiving were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.
Other causes of Thanksgiving auto accidents include speed, distracted driving, and drowsy/fatigued driving. Weather also played a role in about a third of all Thanksgiving accidents.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Road This Thanksgiving
If you plan on driving over the Thanksgiving weekend, whether traveling to or returning from visiting family or friends, or going on vacation, or simply driving around your town to shop Black Friday deals, here are some tips to keep in mind to help stay safe out on the road:
- If you are traveling out of town, make sure to plan ahead. Know the route you are traveling, and program it into your navigation device, cell phone, or vehicle infotainment system before setting off. Also make sure to check the traffic and weather conditions along your route. Most importantly, try to leave early to account for traffic or weather delays. That way, you won’t feel stressed about arriving late and feel the need to drive fast or aggressively to try to make up time.
- When traveling a long distance, make sure to stop regularly to take a break, including getting out of the car, stretching, taking a short walk, and drinking some water. This will help keep you fresh and alert. If you are traveling with others, consider trading off driving duties. Avoid driving late at night or after a long day at work, as you may more quickly become fatigued or drowsy. If you do start to feel tired behind the wheel, pull over into a well-lit rest stop or parking lot to take a short nap, which can give you a boost of energy. If that doesn’t help, find the nearest hotel to spend the night.
- Never drink and drive. If you plan to consume alcohol with your Thanksgiving dinner, make sure to consume responsibly or have a designated driver who will stay sober. Alternatively, make other travel arrangements, such as calling a cab or rideshare. Or, you can make plans to spend the night at your destination.
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