The days between Thanksgiving and Black Friday are notorious for a spike in traffic accidents. Of the total number of traffic fatalities during November from 2013 to 2018, 12.46% occurred over the Thanksgiving period.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 may see higher numbers of traffic accidents over Thanksgiving as more people choose to travel by car than plane. 74% of Americans said that, due to COVID-19 concerns, their next vacation will be by vehicle rather than by plane. So, be prepared for busier roads this Thanksgiving and practice these driving safety tips.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Statistically, alcohol consumption over Thanksgiving increases. Many head to bars on Thanksgiving eve and enjoy drinks while watching football after Thanksgiving lunch. Combine this with driving, and it makes Thanksgiving one of the deadliest driving holidays.
Thanksgiving eve is particularly dangerous. With more drunk drivers on the road comes an increase in reckless driving. Not only do more drivers spee,d but they also fail to buckle up. In 2017, 57% of vehicle occupants killed in nighttime crashes over Thanksgiving were not wearing a seatbelt, compared to 40% during the day.
Remember, being caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% can also land you with a DUI charge. In Utah, the limit is 0.05%.
Avoid Black Friday Traffic
This year, Black Friday is likely to see more people shopping online to avoid crowded stores and the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. As a result, Black Friday traffic may actually decrease. Retailers are also pushing online sales to reduce the number of shoppers in-store so that social distancing protocols can be maintained.
That said, the night before Black Friday is another heavy drinking night. With the threat of COVID-19 and drunk drivers, you may want to avoid the Black Friday madness altogether this year. Shopping online is more convenient, faster, and safer.
Take the Weather Into Account
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, many parts of the U.S. have snow. Bad weather is a major contributing factor to road accidents. To stay safe in winter weather, follow these tips:
Prepare your car for winter. Switch to snow tires, give your car a tune-up, check the brakes, defroster, lights, and wiper blades, and keep an emergency kit in your trunk.
Slow down! Speed kills, especially in bad weather when roads are slippery and visibility may be poor.
Stay home. If the forecast predicts blizzards, heavy rains, black ice, or gale-force wind, try to stay off the roads.
Keep your wits about you. One should never drive distracted or impaired, especially in severe weather when you need to be fully alert.
Drive Safely on a Long-Distance Trip
If you plan to take the long road, be extra cautious, as traffic may be heavier over Thanksgiving 2020.
Make sure your car is in tip-top condition to avoid breakdowns or a crash due to mechanical failure.
Take breaks. Drowsy driving causes approximately 100,000 car crashes and 1,550 deaths every year. If you’re the only driver, plan rest stops and stay overnight to avoid driver fatigue.
Follow COVID-19 safety protocols. On a road trip, you’ll probably be stopping at restrooms, restaurants, attractions, and supermarkets. Wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, and disinfect your vehicle. Our survey found that 51% of drivers admitted to not disinfecting their vehicle during this pandemic. Keep disinfectant wipes in the car to wipe down door handles, the steering wheel, gear shifter, and other surfaces.
As the holidays approach, driving safety becomes a greater concern to motorists. If you want to improve your driving skills, consider taking a defensive driving course. You’ll learn how to drive safely in inclement weather, anticipate problems, and prevent accidents — skills that will make you a safer driver all year round.