How Can I Avoid a Car Accident over Thanksgiving?

car accident thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, so many of us are feeling particularly thankful that we can reconnect with family and friends that we were unable to see last year because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions. However, before you can sit down at the Thanksgiving table and enjoy the perfectly cooked turkey and all the delicious fixings, you will likely have to get in your car and drive anywhere from five to 50 or more miles to get to your destination. If you are one of the over 48 million people who will be traveling by car this Thanksgiving, you are urged to use extra caution, as this is one of the most dangerous holidays when it comes to a car accident. However, by keeping safety a top priority, and following some important driving tips when sharing the road with other holiday travelers, you can avoid a serious car accident. If you are involved in a car accident over the Thanksgiving weekend, do not hesitate to contact a skilled car accident lawyer.

According to AAA, over 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers are driving to their destinations. That means that there will be an estimated 48.3 million motorists on the roads, which is an 8.4 percent increase from last Thanksgiving. The increased number of motorists on the road can cause traffic to come to a standstill, and all feelings of gratitude and thankfulness go out the window. Impatient, frustrated drivers who are running late, or who simply have no patience for traffic, may engage in unsafe or even aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off other drivers, and changing lanes or exiting the highway without signaling. Depending on the circumstances and the speed at which the vehicles are traveling, this can cause car accidents ranging from minor fender-benders to devastating head-on collisions that result in severe personal injury and tragic fatalities.

What COVID-19 Precautions Do I Still Need to Take?

Fortunately, the COVID-19 vaccine is available and a significant percentage of the population in the United States has been vaccinated. However, travelers are still urged to take proactive steps to avoid contracting or spreading the virus, including cases caused by the lingering delta variant. For example, when stopping at gas stations, rest stops, or restaurants, bring a mask in case they are required. In addition, make sure that you use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces such as doors, faucets, and other high-touch surfaces. If you or anyone you are traveling with has not been vaccinated, you should consider getting a COVID test before traveling to confirm that you do not have the virus.

What Are Other Thanksgiving Travel Hazards?

In addition to the increased number of motorists on the roads and highways, there are a number of other hazards that can increase the risk of a car accident over the Thanksgiving weekend, including the following:

  • Inclement weather conditions: Depending on where you live and where you are traveling, the weather in late November can be very unpredictable. That means you could be traveling in rain, fog, or freezing rain and snow. During this time of year, there are also a lot of leaves on the ground that have recently fallen off the trees. When they are wet from rain or snow, they can cause the roads to be extremely slippery. It is important that you anticipate these hazardous weather conditions and take the necessary precautions to avoid a serious accident.
  • Drunk driving: In addition to the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages are also served at many holiday gatherings. The holiday weekend is also an opportunity for people to reconnect with friends and family who may be home from college or are visiting from out of town. Oftentimes, that means meeting up at a local bar or friend’s home and enjoying a few cocktails. As a result, there is an increased number of drunk drivers on the roads. A drunk driving accident can cause devastating injuries and fatalities, all of which are completely preventable if the impaired motorist simply refrained from getting behind the wheel.
  • Drowsy driving: This is another common cause of car accidents during the Thanksgiving holiday, particularly if you traveled a significant distance and you are driving home after the Thanksgiving meal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, motorists who have been awake for 18 consecutive hours or more experience the same impairments as if they had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. Being awake for more than 24 hours is comparable with having a BAC of 0.10, which is considered legally drunk.
  • Distracted driving: This is one of the most common causes of car accidents throughout the year. However, during the holiday season, motorists tend to be even more distracted. Unfortunately, that means that drivers are more likely to make a phone call, read or send a text, or check their grocery list on the way to the store. Despite knowing how dangerous this behavior is, too many motorists think that they can read a text message or talk on the phone without any repercussions. However, sending or reading a text while traveling at a speed of 55 mph is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

What Can I Do to Prevent a Thanksgiving Car Accident?

Unfortunately, you cannot control the weather or how other motorists drive. However, you can take proactive steps to significantly reduce the risk of a car accident over the Thanksgiving holiday, including the following:

  • Make sure that your vehicle is well maintained. As the weather changes and the temperature starts to drop, it is a good time to check your vehicle’s tire pressure, windshield wipers, fluid levels, and the battery. It is also highly recommended that you have your car checked by a skilled mechanic to ensure that the brakes, transmission, engine, and other components of the vehicle are in good working order.
  • Avoid peak travel times. The busiest times to travel over Thanksgiving are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday evening after the holiday. If you can avoid driving during these times, it is highly recommended that you do so.
  • Get plenty of rest before traveling. Make sure that you are well rested, particularly if you are traveling a long distance. If you start to feel drowsy while driving, either share the driving with another licensed driver or take multiple breaks to stretch, get some fresh air, or have a cup of coffee.
  • Do not drink and drive. If you plan to drink alcohol on Thanksgiving or at any point during the holiday weekend, make sure there is a designated driver who will not be drinking and who can give you a ride home, plan to stay the night wherever you are, or contact a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft.
  • Use extreme caution when driving in the vicinity of large trucks. There are a number of hazards associated with large trucks. For example, they have very large blind spots, so avoid driving directly behind, in front of, or on either side of a large commercial truck. If you cannot see the truck driver in his or her rear-view mirror, the driver probably cannot see you.
  • Obey the rules of the road. You are always expected to make safety a priority when driving. This is even more important when there are more motorists on the road, some of whom may be distracted, drowsy, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or speeding.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Although a seat belt cannot prevent a car accident, it can prevent serious injuries and fatalities caused by car accidents. All passengers, including the front and back seat passengers, should wear a seat belt at all times.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car at all times. If your vehicle breaks down or you get in an accident during inclement weather, having an emergency kit in your vehicle can keep you safe and warm until help arrives. A well-stocked emergency kit should include the following:
    – Flashlight with extra batteries
    – Warm blankets
    – Change of clothes and extra socks
    – Sand or kitty litter for traction on slippery surfaces
    – Shovel
    – Ice scraper
    – Warning flares or triangles
    – Bottled water and non-perishable snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, and granola bars
    – Extra phone charger
    – Basic first-aid kit

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

If you were seriously injured in a car accident over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and determine who is responsible for causing the accident. We will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and ensure that your legal rights are protected every step of the way.  To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (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.