This Thanksgiving weekend, almost 60 million Americans will travel an hour or more from their homes, according to AAA. Even though gas prices are the highest they’ve been since 2014, 89% of people traveling this weekend will drive to their destinations.
That’s 45.5 million people on our country’s roads between Wednesday evening and Monday morning.
Car accident attorneys know that more people on the roads, especially tired people who may have been drinking or who may be in a hurry, increase the risks of car crashes. Follow these 5 tips to avoid a Thanksgiving weekend car wreck.
1. “Buckle Up–Every Trip. Every Time.”
This is the slogan of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to save thousands of lives. In 2015, 48% of the 22,441 people killed in passenger vehicle accidents were not wearing seatbelts. Wearing a seatbelt reduces your chances of being ejected from a vehicle and reducing the likelihood of serious and fatal injuries in a car wreck.
Every person in a car, truck, SUV or van should be properly strapped in before the vehicle moves. More than 300 people are likely to die in car crashes this Thanksgiving weekend. Wearing a seatbelt greatly reduces your chances of being one of those fatalities.
2. Don’t drink and drive
Never get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, or using legal drugs or medications that can make you drowsy or impair your judgement. It is hard for adults to know when they have reached the legal BAC, so the best plan is to avoid alcohol and drugs altogether before driving.
3. Watch the road, not something else
Distracted driving is quickly becoming a leading cause of car accidents. Attorneys have seen a rise in serious injuries caused by distracted drivers. Drivers should focus on the road and on driving. Someone else in the car should oversee music, food and directions. In addition to being dangerous, it is illegal to use a handheld electronic device while driving in California.
4. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination
Anxious drivers and drivers in a hurry tend to take more risks and make more mistakes than relaxed drivers who are calm no matter what the traffic situation. Drivers who switch lanes and drive over the speed limit might arrive 4-6% faster than drivers who do not, but the risks of those behaviors are much greater than a few minutes of saved time.
5. Be well rested before you get behind the wheel
Even drivers who would never drink alcohol or take medication that might make them drowsy are tempted to drive on too-little sleep. Many drivers don’t know that for most people, driving after less than 6 hours of sleep impairs driving in the same way that a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% – 0.08% would.
Drowsy drivers are less attentive, have slower reaction times, and make less safe decisions. They are less able than a well-rested driver to quickly survey a traffic situation and understand possible risks.
On long car trips, drivers should take frequent breaks, drink caffeine, get at least 7 hours of sleep each day, and if possible, share driving with another safe driver.
The car accident attorneys at Cerritos Legal encourage you to drive safely this weekend and wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!