The weekend around Thanksgiving unfortunately sees lots of fatal and serious-injury crashes. The uptick can probably be attributed to several factors, including increased traffic, bad driving weather, and time of travel – along with the usual suspects of speeding, distracted driving, and impaired or drunk driving.
This year, AAA predicts that Thanksgiving weekend will see record-breaking travel.
Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
3 tips for avoiding a Thanksgiving car crash
1. Expect the worst (weather).
In Washington State, many Thanksgiving travelers will head over mountain passes. The passes are particularly precarious because driving conditions can change so rapidly.
Any mountain can change from clear, dry roads to blizzard-like conditions in minutes. In my experience, drivers just don’t properly prepare for these changing conditions. Prior to traveling:
- Check your car over carefully to make sure that your tires are safe.
- Make sure that vehicle fluids are at proper levels.
- Clean your wiper blades.
When weather changes, and driving conditions become less than optimal, slow down – and increase your following distances.
2. Plan for traffic.
Expect that most major interstates – and a lot of secondary roads – are going to be packed.
Just like you, everyone is trying to get somewhere for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, heavy traffic seems to encourage people to exceed the speed limit whenever possible.
While you might feel tired, and impatient, you logically know that arriving a few minutes early does not outweigh the risk of a Thanksgiving car crash.
3. Focus on the road.
Situate yourself before you start driving, so you can focus only on the road, the traffic, and other drivers. Before you leave:
- Review your route, and/or set your directions.
- Plan a stop.
- Let people know that you will be driving, and will check in with them at your stop.
- If you have passengers, prepare what they will need so they don’t distract you.
Once you start the car, you have only one task – getting from Point A to Point B safely. No one wants a Thanksgiving car crash: when you are driving, it is your job to prevent that crash.