Drive safely this Thanksgiving

Published 7:01 pm Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving is now just two days away; 48 hours from enjoying great food with family and friends. Travel is usually associated with a holiday like Thanksgiving, as many people either drive or fly in order to spend the holiday with family or friends who don’t live close by.

This Thanksgiving looks to have more people going on a trek to enjoy their turkey, as the American Automobile Association projects 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this year, a 4.8-percent increase from last year. According to AAA’s prediction, this weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005, with 2.5 million more people jumping in a car or bus, hopping on a plane or riding a train compared with last year.

With the increased traffic during the holidays, more attention needs to be paid to safety while traveling. The American Trucking Associations, which considers efforts to improve highway safety one of their core areas of interest, offer these tips for safe travel during the holidays:

  • Prepare your vehicle for long-distance travel. Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
  • Plan ahead. Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.
  • Do not cut in front of large trucks. Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  • Be aware of truck blind spots. When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
  • Check your emergency kit. Contents should include a battery-powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire-repair kit and flares.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.
  • Leave early and avoid risks. Leave early so you won’t be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
  • Avoid extreme weather conditions. Ice, hail and snow make roads difficult to travel. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.
  • Remove ice and snow from your vehicle. Clear snow from your windows and roof to ensure that you have maximum visibility and are not creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don’t allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
  • Be aware of the vehicle in front of you. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front so you can avoid snow and ice blowing onto your windshield or maneuver around patches of ice.
  • Slow down. With the extra highway congestion due to holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of space and reduce your speed.
  • Buckle up. Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.

Please don’t allow the excitement of seeing loved ones and enjoying Grandma’s Thanksgiving delicacies keep you from traveling safely. Heed these tips, drive safely, and you’ll be at your final destination soon enough to enjoy the Thanksgiving festivities.