Many of us are gearing up to hit our nation’s roads this week to spend time with family and friends. Thanksgiving weekend travel – that’s the Wednesday before the holiday to the Monday after – is some of the busiest of the year. Sadly, with the higher number of motorists on the roads comes more vehicle crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that during Thanksgiving weekend in 2014, 341 drivers and passengers were killed in crashes in the United States.
There are, of course, many contributing factors to the spike in traffic fatalities during the holidays. Half of the 341 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes during the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend were not wearing seat belts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in the event of a vehicle crash. Despite the substantial protection of seat belts, however, millions of people do not buckle up during every trip.
Drive Sober or Don’t Drive at All
The day before Thanksgiving is said to be the biggest drinking day of the year. Drunk drivers put not only themselves in grave danger, but also everyone else on the road. It’s not enough to try to calculate your blood-alcohol content (BAC) during gatherings either. According to the NHTSA, the only way to be sure you’re not driving under the influence is to have a BAC of zero. Designating a sober driver ahead of time or making other alternate transportation arrangements can save lives and prevent unnecessary fines and possible jail time for driving under the influence.
Avoid Distractions Behind the Wheel
Your car will probably be packed with people, home-cooked side dishes and gifts. Your cell phone might be going off as friends and family members need directions or have last-minute questions. Thanksgiving road travel is a haven for distraction. These added disruptions are more of a reason to make safety a top priority in your vehicle – especially because other motorists may not be so aware. Avoid all manual, cognitive and visual distractions until you’ve arrived at your destination.
Police enforcement will be cracking down on “…impaired, distracted, aggressive and reckless driving” this weekend in every state. In New York in particular, State Police have announced that there will be additional patrols and sobriety checkpoints between Wednesday through Sunday. According to Buffalo News, Operation Hang Up will target distracted drivers with the use of unmarked patrol vehicles.
As we celebrate this joyous season with family and friends, remember to keep yourself and your family safe on the roads.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).