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Here’s How to Get to Your Thanksgiving Destination Safely

Posted in Car Accident on November 23, 2020

2020 has been a year that none of us will ever forget, although most of us would like to! It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already upon us, and that means that it’s time to safely and responsibly spend time with family and friends, count our blessings, and look forward to a new year.

Because of the risks of COVID-19, very few people will opt for air travel to see family and friends. Instead, most will drive to their destinations. According to a Fox Business report, 56% of Americans still plan to travel for the holiday, and 75% of them plan to travel on the road. That means that while there will be fewer travelers than usual this Thanksgiving, there may be more vehicles than normal due to more Americans opting to drive across the state or even across the country.

Prepare for Slowdowns and Delays

When there are more vehicles on the road around you, there are more chances of other drivers being unsafe. They could speed, follow too closely, drive while impaired, fall asleep behind the wheel, become distracted, and so much more. In addition, heavy traffic volumes make it more difficult to react in time to avoid crashes, as there’s less distance between vehicles.

It’s a good idea to mentally prepare for hitting traffic on your trip, especially if you’ll drive through or around major metro areas. Remember that slowed or stopped traffic can appear suddenly and with little warning, but keeping an eye out for brake lights can help you anticipate it before you’re barreling down on a stopped vehicle at 70 mph.

Leave Early to Avoid Traffic and Reduce the Need to Speed

Making it to Thanksgiving dinner on time can be one of the most stressful aspects of the holiday—especially if you’re the only part of the family that’s running late! But Thanksgiving travel can be unpredictable, and it’s often delayed due to traffic jams, road closures, accidents, and more.

Many people try to push the speed limit or even drive well above it to make up lost time, especially if they got a late start or got stuck in traffic. Don’t do that to yourself! In addition to increasing your risk of a crash, speeding also puts you at risk of getting a ticket. Instead, leave early and give yourself a large cushion of time for making it to the dinner table before the turkey is carved.

Map Your Route Ahead of Time—Then Put Your Phone Down!

Smartphones can be highly distracting, but they play an important role on road trips—mapping your route and avoiding the heaviest congestion. Before you leave home, map your route and ensure turn-by-turn directions are turned on, whether it’s on your phone or through your vehicle’s infotainment system.

Once you’ve mapped your route, resist the temptation to change it, check the screen, make phone calls, read text messages, or check your email. Hands-free navigation means you’re free to focus on driving, so take advantage of it. If you start looking at your phone for any reason while behind the wheel, you’ll become distracted, and that’s a danger to you, your passengers, and other people on the road.

Ensure Everyone is Buckled Up and Properly Secured, Even Pets

You should always drive under the assumption that you’ll be in a crash. When you anticipate a worst-case scenario, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of serious injury or death in the event that a crash does occur. Thankfully, that requires only one major step for you and your passengers—buckling up.

Put on your seatbelt before you do anything else when you get in your vehicle, and ensure your passengers do, too. Secure kids properly based on their height, weight, and age. Never allow young children to ride in the front seat, place young children in booster seats, make toddlers and older babies ride in front-facing car seats, and place infants in rear-facing seats. And don’t forget to properly secure pets in crates—never let a cat or dog roam freely in your vehicle!

Drive During the Day and Watch the Weather

Sure, your vehicle is equipped with headlights, windshield wipers, and even all-weather tires. But driving during weather conditions other than sunny and dry increases your risk of a crash. If you’re taking a long trip, try to keep your driving hours limited to daylight hours. In addition, avoid driving during heavy downpours or if it’s snowing, foggy, or below freezing.

Always be prepared for sudden changes in weather, even if you’ve checked the forecast. As you travel, weather conditions can change from area to area, and just a few dozen miles can mean the difference between comfortable temperatures and freezing chills.

Don’t Get Behind the Wheel After Drinking

If your family enjoys a few alcoholic beverages with or after Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to metabolize them before you drive. Remember that the average adult requires around one hour to process one beer, glass of wine, or 1.5 oz pour of liquor.

If you go over your limit, stay overnight, use a designated driver, get a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, or call a cab to pick you up. Never get behind the wheel if you’re intoxicated! Not only could you get a DUI, but you could also make a serious mistake that could seriously injure or kill you, your passengers, or another motorist.

Watch for Big Trucks

Whether you’re driving a few dozen miles or a few thousand miles, you’ll undoubtedly cross paths with a few big trucks on your trip. Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are needed 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you encounter a big truck, it’s important to know how to drive safely around it to reduce your risks of a crash.

First, never cut off a semi-truck. These vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making them extremely difficult to slow down or stop. Second, avoid their “No-Zones” as much as possible. These zones include the areas directly in front of their cabs, underneath their driver’s sides, underneath and behind their passenger sides, and directly behind their trailers.

What Should You Do if a Crash DOES Occur During Your Holiday Road Trip?

Unfortunately, even the safest and most contentious drivers can still be involved in crashes. That’s because not all drivers are committed to being safe and alert behind the wheel. If you’re injured in a crash traveling to or returning from your Thanksgiving get together, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Call 911—You need to alert police that a crash occurred and get medical attention right away. Don’t leave the accident scene until the police arrive.
  • Get the other driver’s info—Get their name, phone number, insurance information, and email address. If witnesses are around, collect their info, too.
  • Take pics of the accident scene—Use your smartphone to document the crash scene, including the positions of the vehicles, damage to each, license plate numbers, and more.
  • Alert your insurer—Tell your auto insurance provider that you were in a crash, but don’t admit fault!
  • Call a lawyer—Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, but if your crash happened in TN, you only have one year to file an injury claim! The sooner you call, the better.

We’re Here to Help with a Thanksgiving or Holiday Crash

After such a difficult year, the last thing anyone wants to imagine is an auto accident during the holidays. But that will be a reality for many Tennesseans this year. If you or someone you love is injured in a crash over the holiday season, the Nashville auto accident lawyers at Matt Hardin Law want to help.

We have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims, and we know what it takes to win.  Contact us today for a free consultation.