Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and more than 55 million people are planning to travel 50+ miles for the holiday — a nearly three percent increase over last year — and most of them will be driving. Starting tomorrow, however, this weekend marks one of the most dangerous stretches of time to be on the road due to cold weather and the three D’s: drunk, distracted and drowsy driving.
As the NHTSA noted last year, binge drinking and other substance abuse over Thanksgiving have become something of a cultural phenomenon. But tragically, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period between 2013 and 2017. It’s one of the deadliest holidays on our roads.
Drunk drivers endanger themselves and everyone else on the road. Unless your blood-alcohol concentration is zero, you could be too impaired to drive. 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. NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app for Android and IOS allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s pickup location.
Late-night driving can also be dangerous, as it reduces focus and reaction time and increases the risk of a crash. The CDC offers these signs of drowsy driving:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
- Missing your exit
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
If you or your driver seems tired or displays any of the above signs, stop driving immediately and make alternate arrangements.
In the midst of our crazy holiday shuffle, be sure to also drive without distraction. Your car might be packed with people, maybe pets, dishes, and gifts. Your phone might be going off as friends and family members need directions or have last-minute questions. It’s tempting to try to multitask, but it only takes a second of inattention to cause a crash. Avoid all manual, mental, and visual distractions until you’ve arrived at your destination.
As we all celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, let’s all remember to do our part to keep ourselves, our family, and other motorists 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).