We are approaching one of the business travel times of the year. Thanksgiving is the second most dangerous holiday for driving, according to the National Safety Council. So there is no better time to make sure you and your vehicle are road-ready!
Here are some tips to help ensure you and your family make it to your destination safely this Thanksgiving holiday:
- Never drink and drive. While drunk driving deaths have decreased as a whole, there has been an increase in the proportion of drunk driving deaths between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Even one drink can have an impact on your driving ability, putting you, your passengers and other people on the road at risk.
- Buckle up. According to the National Safety Council, when used properly, seatbelts reduce the risk of fatal injury to those in the front seat by 45 percent, and reduce moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
- Inspect your seatbelt- especially children’s seatbeltsand car seats. A seatbelt is only effective if worn correctly. The lap belt should fit snug across your hipbones and below the abdomen. The shoulder belt should come across the center of your left shoulder and chest- never behind your back or under your arm. Doing so can actually cause injury. As we have pointed out previously, an alarming four out of five child safety seats are installed incorrectly. Before making that holiday road trip, make sure your child’s car seat is properly installed. There are resources available to parents.
Visit http://www.safercar.gov/cpsApp/cps/index.htm to ensure your child’s car seat is properly installed. By simply entering your zip code, the child car seat inspection station locator will help you find a station nearest you. Certified technicians will inspect your child car seat, in most cases, free of charge and instruct you as to how to correctly install it.
- Plan your holiday trip when your focus and energy are greatest. Many motorists opt to make long drives during the late night or early morning hours to avoid traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this move puts you and your passengers even more at-risk. Driving between midnight and 6 a.m. is considered extremely high-risk.
- Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Be mindful of the warning signs associated with drowsy driving (i.e. – yawning excessively, missing traffic signs and exits, difficulty focusing or drifting in and out of your lane).
- Pull over to a safe area and take a break if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms. If you do not feel tired, it is still a good idea to pull over and rest after driving 100 miles (or every 2 hours).
- Follow your parents’ advice. When it comes to preventing accidents, many of us can follow the examples set by our parents. They are five times less likely to drink and drive, more likely to wear their seatbelts and avoid driving in dangerous weather conditions.
- Do not drive distracted. Texting while driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents in the U.S. Before texting that cute picture of the kids you just took, remember who you are putting at risk. Other distractions to avoid behind the wheel include: talking on the phone, watching videos, figuring out directions, eating and drinking, or reading. All of these activities take the driver’s attention off the road.
- Stay in the right lane. There are benefits to staying in the “slow lane” when driving. The further you are to the right of the road, the more likely you are to dodge drunk drivers and those driving the wrong way.
- Inspect your vehicle and its tires
- Inspect your tires to avoid a blowout and make sure they have proper tread for driving in treacherous weather conditions. Do not forget to check your spare tire to ensure it is properly inflated.
- Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working condition and your windshield wiper fluid is filled.
- There have been numerous vehicle recalls. Do a quick internet search by entering your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the NHTSA’s free online search to find out if your vehicle is on the list.
- Keep up with routine maintenance and inspections. Have your vehicle thoroughly checked for leaks, worn brakes and hoses, etc.
- Be prepared. Make sure you have items in your vehicle that will prove useful in case of an emergency. Include a snow shovel and ice scraper if you are traveling up north, jumper cables, flashlight, flares and emergency markers, cell phone and charger, blankets, water, food, an emergency safety kit and any necessary medications.
- Pay attention to your vehicle’s maximum capacity. When traveling with the family, it’s easy to overload the vehicle. Check your car’s weight limit (typically printed on a label inside the driver side’s door) to make sure you are not overloading it with passengers or luggage.
Be Safe and Have a Great Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. The increase in traffic, particularly on our nation’s highways, increases the likelihood of traffic-related accidents. At the Law Firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A., we want you to travel safely this holiday season, and year around! If you or a loved one are involved in a car accident this holiday season, know that my firm and my family are here for you. Our experienced team of accident attorneys can help you obtain compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. Feel free to fill out the quick contact form found on this page or call us anytime at 407-422-4529 to discuss your legal options in greater detail.