Thanksgiving is now the most dangerous holiday in the United States, far outranking the generally bawdy New Year's, which has long held a bad reputation and tends to generate more bad press.
A whopping 91% of people who travel for Thanksgiving in the U.S. will take to the roads, and more than 42 million will go more than 50 miles. The increased traffic naturally increases the number of traffic accidents and fatalities that occur. There are some common culprits behind the accidents, so take steps to reduce your chances of being involved in one:
1.) Don't drink with dinner and then drive.
This is common advice, but it bears repeating. Keep in mind that the penalties for drinking and driving are severe in most states. In 42 states, your license can be suspended on the first offense. If you're uncertain about how much you can drink with dinner and still be legal to drive, there are charts to help you determine what's safe. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs, you can usually safely have 2 drinks. Any more than that, and you may not be legally drunk, but you could be considered "impaired," which can net you the same penalties.
A smarter rule is to avoid drinking and driving at all. Put the family teetotaller in charge of the steering wheel for the night. There's generally extra police presence on the road during the holiday and they're on the alert for any signs of impaired driving.
2.) Get your directions down before you drive.
If you're heading to your cousin's house for the first time or you're planning a scenic route to grandma's house, get your directions down before you drive or have a navigator in the car with you.
GPS devices -- especially those handy mapping apps on your smartphone -- can put you at risk of violating distracted driving laws. People mistakenly think that laws forbidding the use of cell phones and handheld devices while driving don't apply if they're only using a mapping system. However, the law makes no distinctions between why you are using the cell phone.
If you aren't sure what the laws are where you'll be travelling, check them out before you get on the road to avoid a hefty ticket. In some states, you won't be ticketed for the cell phone use unless you're pulled over for something else, but in other states you can get a ticket for just being seen with the cell phone in your hand while driving.
3.) Make sure your vision is up to the task.
Since the days are shorter and dinner times tend to run late on Thanksgiving, there's usually a lot more traffic on the road at night. The lower light levels affect the way the rods in your eyes and neurons in your visual cortex work. Problems inherent in the way that humans process motion in the dark can cause you to underestimate the speed of other vehicles at night, particularly at turns and curves in the road.
Plus, there are other physical problems that may affect how well you see at night. Cataracts can cause you to see halos around other car's headlights and blur your vision. Even just having an out-of-date prescription for your glasses or contacts could make driving at night harder. It's not a bad plan to see an eye doctor if you think you'll be taking a long trip at night this Thanksgiving.
If you do your best to avoid an accident but still end up in one, talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.Share