How can I Travel Safely Over the Thanksgiving Holiday?

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but the global pandemic is forcing people to rethink their holiday plans and reconsider the traditional indoor feast with a house full of family and friends. In fact, it has raised a whole host of safety issues, from the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to whether it is safe to travel. Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday, which has resulted in an increase in car accidents over the four-day holiday weekend. Although there may be slightly fewer cars on the road this year, since many people have decided to avoid travel and congregate indoors with large groups of people, there is still an increased risk for car accidents.

In addition, COVID-19 presents a range of health risks that travelers need to consider before they make their holiday travel plans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the safest thing to do is to stay home and limit the holiday celebrations to members of the immediate family. However, for those who do plan to travel, safety officials urge people to make safety a priority. For those who are involved in an accident while traveling, an experienced car accident lawyer can provide invaluable assistance.

How can Families Reduce the Risk of Contracting COVID-19?

As the weather gets cooler and fewer outdoor activities are happening, there is an increased risk of the transmission and spread of COVID-19. This is particularly dangerous for older people and those with compromised immune systems. According to the chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, it is important that people are aware of the health risks, and that they take the necessary step to minimize those risks if they plan to see family and friends over Thanksgiving. The CDC has identified the following common activities associated with Thanksgiving and ranked them from low risk to high risk:

Low-Risk Activities

  • Hosting a small dinner party that includes only members of the immediate family.
  • Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal and delivering it to family members or friends who may be high risk and dropping the meals off in a way that avoids direct contact.
  • Scheduling time to see family virtually online.
  • Holiday shopping should be done online as much as possible.
  • Football games, sporting events, parades, and movies should be watched from home.

Moderate-Risk Activities

  • Hosting a larger gathering for an outdoor dinner, if weather permits, is considered moderately safe if guests take the appropriate safety precautions.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards are popular fall-weather activities that are somewhat safe if people wear face masks, maintain social distancing, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer regularly.
  • Attending small outdoor sporting events where safety precautions are in place and followed.

High-Risk Activities

  • Hosting a large, indoor Thanksgiving celebration can increase the risk of spreading COVID-19, since it is more difficult to practice social distancing and practice other recommended safety measures. This is particularly risky if people are coming from other states where the number of COVID-19 cases are higher.
  • Attending large, crowded sporting events, parades, or other outdoor activities where people are not wearing masks, or practicing social distancing are considered high-risk activities.
  • Shopping at crowded indoor malls or stores during the busy shopping season can increase the spread of COVID-19. It is best to avoid crowded stores especially on Black Friday.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can affect people’s judgment and make them more likely to ignore COVID-19 safety protocols.

Family and friends who have been missing their loved ones over the past several months and who are committed to spending time together this Thanksgiving are urged to create what is known as a holiday bubble, which involves a number of steps including the following:

  • As soon as possible:
    – Discuss the rules to make sure that everyone is in agreement.
    – Get a flu shot.
    – Check travel restrictions for the state that the family members are visiting.
    – Order extra masks, gloves, or any other personal protective equipment (PPE) that is necessary.
  • Two weeks before Thanksgiving:
    – Self-quarantine if possible.
    – Be vigilant about wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing.
    – Monitor any symptoms and take a daily temperature reading.
  • Five to seven days before Thanksgiving:
    – Get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, not a rapid test.
    – Have plenty of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on hand.
    – Check all travel restrictions.
  • If traveling by car:
    – Try to make the trip in a single day to avoid having to stay at a hotel.
    – Bring plenty of snacks and water to avoid having to stop at a convenience store or a restaurant.
    – Spend as little time as possible in crowded places such as rest stops and gas stations.
  • If traveling by plane:
    – Wear a face mask during the entire flight.
    – Skip snacks or drinks provided by the airline.
    – Use the restroom before boarding to avoid having to use the restroom on the plane.

What Tips Help Travelers Reach Their Destination Safely?

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2017, 365 people were fatally injured in car accidents over the Thanksgiving weekend. Heavy traffic, drivers who are in a rush to get to where they are going, inclement weather, and drunk/impaired driving are just a few of the factors that make the Thanksgiving holiday weekend so dangerous for travelers. However, motorists who keep the following safety precautions in mind are more likely to arrive at their destination safe and sound:

  • Wear a seat belt. This is one of the most effective ways to save a life or reduce the severity of injuries in the event of a car accident.
  • Obey the speed limit. Speeding can increase the risk of an accident, and the resulting injuries tend to be more severe than accidents that do not involve speeding.
  • Avoid distractions. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents, yet it is completely avoidable. When a motorist’s attention is off the road for a mere two seconds, it doubles the chance of a car accident. If a driver’s attention is off the road for five seconds, traveling at a speed of 55 mph, it is comparable with driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Common distractions include talking on the phone, texting, checking social media, eating, and reaching for something in the back seat.
  • Do not drink and drive. Too many holiday celebrations turn tragic after people get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 40 percent of traffic fatalities in 2012 were caused by drunk or impaired drivers. Those who drink alcohol should either stay the night or make arrangements to get a ride home.
  • Use caution when driving near large commercial trucks. Motorists should not cut in front of a large truck, as they are much heavier and require much more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop. Trucks also have very large blind spots. When passing a truck, drivers should pass on the left where the truck’s blind spot is smaller.
  • Prepare the vehicle. Drivers should make sure that the vehicle has been maintained, and that it is in good working order. It is important to check the wipers and fluid, the radiator, cooling systems, tires, brakes, and lights.
  • Avoid driving while drowsy. When taking a long road trip, it is important that the driver is well rested. Research shows that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, being awake for 18 hours straight causes impairments that are comparable with having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 percent. After 24 hours of no sleep, impairment levels can increase to the equivalent of .10 percent, which is above the legal BAC limit of .08 percent.
  • Allow for extra travel time. When traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend, families will likely encounter heavy traffic, so everyone should be patient. Drivers should avoid tailgating, swerving in and out of lanes, driving aggressively, or making rude hand gestures.
  • Check the weather before hitting the road. The weather can be unpredictable in November. It can be sunny and mild one day, and temperatures can quickly drop, and freezing rain or snow can be in the forecast. This can impact visibility and make road conditions treacherous. Drivers should remove any ice or snow that has accumulated on the car, including the windshield, windows, and the roof. Also, motorists should reduce driving speed and use extra caution.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the vehicle. An emergency kit should include a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra blankets, jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, bottled water, non-perishable food, and a first aid kit.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Car Accidents Over the Thanksgiving Holiday

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident while traveling over Thanksgiving, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the entire process. Our dedicated team will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.