For many of us, the Thanksgiving holiday includes festive get-togethers with family or friends and plates heaped with our favorite foods. For some, the day requires extensive planning that involves travel across multiple states. It is important to make safety a priority, as car accidents and injuries typically increase during the holidays.
The Facts About Thanksgiving Holiday Accidents
According to the American Safety Council (ASC) Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous times of the year for car accidents, followed closely by Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Each year, approximately 500 people are killed as the result of holiday accidents, while thousands more suffer serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.
As millions of people hit the roads to visit family and friends, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers to avoid car accidents and injuries. Factors that increase holiday accident risks include:
With an increase in the number of people on the roads, you can expect traffic congestion and delays. Being in an unfamiliar location makes driving more challenging.
If you will be out of town during the holidays, avoid searching for directions while you are driving or making any sudden stops or lane changes.
If you will be staying in the Triangle area, be aware that other drivers may not know where they are going and may make sudden stops or lane changes. Avoid following too closely and other types of aggressive driving behaviors.
Adverse Weather Conditions
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that of the close to six million car accidents that occur each year in the United States, roughly a quarter are due to adverse weather conditions. While heavy snowfall and icy roads could be a factor if you are heading to the northeast or to the mountains, the FHWA reports that nearly half of all weather-related accidents occur in wet, rainy conditions. Be aware of the impact rain can have on tire traction, reduce your speed, and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
Reckless Driving Behaviors
The Safety Council reports that the most common factors in holiday accidents are the reckless actions of other drivers.
Extended road trips and busy schedules can make drivers more fatigued than usual, while new scenery and anticipation of events can create driver distractions. To avoid car accidents, get plenty of rest before taking a long trip. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on the task of driving.
How to Prepare for Your Holiday Trip
Wherever you are headed for the holiday, having your car break down while on the road puts you and your passengers in jeopardy.
To help avoid car accidents and injuries, it is important to make sure your vehicle is properly maintained at all times. Before heading out this holiday season, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends these tips:
- Get a routine maintenance check of your car’s fluids, tires, battery, and brakes.
- Make sure your windshield is clean and your wipers are functioning properly, and that you have plenty of washer fluid.
- Clean and check your car’s lighting system to ensure everything is in good working order.
- Keep an emergency kit in the trunk of your car. Make sure it contains a flashlight, gloves, a blanket, and bottled water, along with a few basic tools, jumper cables, and flares in case of a breakdown.
Always keep your cell phone fully charged on road trips and keep a list of emergency numbers handy. Map out your destination and check weather and road traffic conditions before you go, while letting a friend or family member know your destination and expected time of arrival. If a breakdown does occur, pull over as far as possible, notify the authorities, and wait outside your vehicle, away from the road, until help arrives.
Tips to Avoid Car Accidents on the Road
To avoid car accidents on the road, practice defensive driving skills and follow some basic safety tips. The following dos and don’ts will help reduce your holiday accident risks:
- Wear your seatbelt at all times.
- Don’t text or talk on the phone while driving.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Don’t go over the speed limit or drive too fast for road or weather conditions.
- Use caution when driving at night, because visibility is diminished.
- Don’t drive when you are excessively tired or fatigued.
- Recognize the adverse effects medication can have on your driving abilities.
- Don’t get behind the wheel if you are under the influence of alcohol, even if you only had a few drinks.
The NHTSA reports that more than 40 percent of Thanksgiving traffic fatalities occurred as the result of a drunk driver. If you plan on drinking alcohol as part of your holiday festivities, use a designated driver or get a ride home.
What to Do if Holiday Accidents Occur
Despite taking all the necessary precautions, you cannot always avoid car accidents or prevent other motorists from making errors. In the event you are involved in a holiday accident, you should:
- Notify law enforcement immediately;
- Exchange personal contact, vehicle, and insurance information with other drivers at the scene;
- Make note of any witnesses who may have seen the accident occur;
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your vehicle, and your injuries if possible;
- Get medical attention right away, even if you think your injuries are minor;
- Report the accident to your car insurance provider.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are in business to make money, and one of the ways they do this is by denying or undervaluing claims. Before accepting an insurance settlement offer after a personal injury accident, contact Hardison & Cochran. We can arrange a consultation with our Raleigh car accident attorney, who can advise you on the best course of action, so you can get the compensation you need to recover.