Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most accident-prone times of year. In 2022, that likely won't be any different. The National Safety Council predicts 518 people will die on the roads this Thanksgiving, the highest number since 2007.
Before hitting the road, you must read these safe driving tips. They'll prepare you for what you're likely to encounter and could even save your life! Here's what you need to know to make it home safely.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Drinking and driving is a big no-no. Yet, the dangerous trend of "Blackout Wednesday" is still gaining popularity online. It incentivizes young people to binge on alcohol the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a time when many drivers get behind the wheel.
Of course, you should not drink and drive. Alcohol impairs your judgment and reaction times, which could lead you to crash. Sleep it off and then hit the road. And if you're going to a pre-Thanksgiving party with friends, assign a sober designated driver to keep everyone safe.
Remember, being caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% can also land you a DUI charge. In Utah, the limit is 0.05%.
Prepare for Busy, Busy Roads
Every Thanksgiving is a busy time for American roads. More drivers mean more opportunities for crashes. That's why, in 2020, 13.2% of all traffic deaths in November across the country happened around Thanksgiving.
Another thing to be on the lookout for is irresponsible, risky drivers. During 2020 and 2021, when fewer vehicles were on the road because of the pandemic, many drivers picked up bad driving habits. They got more reckless, and we're paying the price for it now. The first half of 2022 has been the deadliest in 16 years, undoing years of safe driving progress.
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, and check the brakes, defroster, lights, and wiper blades. You should also keep an emergency kit in your trunk.
Slow down! Speed kills, especially in bad weather when roads are slippery and visibility may be poor.
Buckle up! About 51% of passengers killed in traffic accidents in 2020 were not wearing a seatbelt. Many of those deaths could have been avoided with this simple safety accessory.
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.
Make sure your car is in tip-top condition to avoid breakdowns or a crash due to mechanical failure.
Take breaks. Drowsy driving caused approximately 633 crash deaths in 2020. If you’re the only driver, plan rest stops and stay overnight to avoid driver fatigue.
Pack an emergency pack. You might not need it, but you're better safe than sorry. Include blankets, hand warmers, water, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, and a portable phone charger. If you get caught in a blizzard, for example, this kit will come in handy.
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.