How Can I Avoid a Car Accident Over the Thanksgiving Weekend?

If you are one of the millions of Americans that will be loading up the car to spend Thanksgiving with family or friends, keep in mind that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year. While sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is probably not on your list of things that you are thankful for, it is unavoidable, particularly if you will be driving during the busiest times of the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, the increased traffic is among some of the common – yet avoidable – causes of serious car accidents over the holiday weekend. If you are involved in a car accident over Thanksgiving, you are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents on Thanksgiving?

As with most holiday weekends, there are more cars on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which means that you are likely to hit some heavy traffic. The more cars there are on the roadways increases the risk of car accidents. However, that is not the only factor associated with the spike in car accidents during Thanksgiving. Depending on the nature and severity of the accident, the resulting injuries can range from minor cuts and bruising to broken bones and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The following are some of the most common causes of car accidents over the holiday weekend:

  • Heavy traffic: While airports around the country are busy over the Thanksgiving weekend, most Americans travel by car to reach their holiday destination. Getting stuck in traffic can be frustrating, particularly when you are anxious to see family and friends, and some motorists take their frustrations out, by tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes without signaling, and driving aggressively. This type of unsafe driving behavior can increase the risk of a serious accident.
  • Drunk driving: While drunk driving is a problem year-round, people are especially prone to getting behind the wheel at the end of the night after consuming too much alcohol. Thanksgiving is not the only night where people overindulge. From the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving to the following Saturday night, people often meet up at bars to reconnect with friends who are in town for the weekend, and then drive home after having too much to drink. Drunk drivers have slowed reaction times, impaired judgment, and decreased coordination, all of which significantly increase the risk of a devastating accident.
  • Drowsy driving: The large Thanksgiving meal can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. If you traveled several hours earlier in the day, you may be ready for a nap as opposed to getting behind the wheel to drive another several hours home. Even if you are only driving a couple of miles, drowsy driving can cause some of the same impairments as drunk driving, including slower reaction times and reduced coordination. The more tired you are, the more likely it is that you can cause a serious accident.
  • Inclement weather: The weather in late November can be unpredictable. Depending on where you live, weather conditions can range from sunny and mild temperatures to cold and rainy. If the temperatures drop, the rain can turn to freezing rain or snow, which can make road conditions treacherous. Wet leaves can also cause the roads to become very slippery. Black ice is particularly dangerous because motorists do not see it until they hit the ice and start to skid.
  • Motorists who are unfamiliar with the area: When travelers are visiting from out of town, and are unfamiliar with the area, they may be unaware of sharp curves in the road, or other hazards that local residents are aware of. In addition, visitors who are constantly checking the navigation map while they are driving or calling a friend to get directions are more likely to cause an accident when their attention is not on the road and their surroundings.

What Can I Do to Avoid a Thanksgiving Car Accident?

According to recent statistics, the risk of a car accident increases by approximately 17 percent between 8:00 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to 3:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. However, if you are aware of some common causes of car accidents, you can take proactive steps to avoid them. The following are some effective tips to keep in mind if you will be traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend:

  • Do not drink and drive. While this should go without saying, it bears repeating, particularly when a drunk driving accident can cause life-altering injuries and fatalities. If you plan on consuming alcohol, make sure that you have a designated driver, or plan on spending the night wherever you are. If you are out at a bar and your designated driver has left, call a cab or a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. Even if you have only had a couple of drinks, you could experience impairments that could increase the risk of a car accident.
  • Avoid driving if you are tired. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, particularly if you have gone without sleep for more than 24 consecutive hours. After a long day of traveling, eating a large meal and maybe having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, you will probably feel pretty exhausted by the end of the day. Ideally, you should avoid driving, particularly if you have a long drive home. However, if that is not an option, try taking a nap before your trip home, or share the driving responsibilities with another experienced driver. If you start to feel symptoms of drowsiness, open the windows, stop for coffee, or pull over to take a short nap.
  • Give yourself extra travel time. If you assume you are going to hit some heavy traffic, you are less likely to become frustrated and angry. Leave early, plan your route, and check the traffic and weather reports before you hit the road. That way, you can plan ahead and make any necessary adjustments to your travel plans. For example, if there are road closures that will impact your route, you can avoid that traffic by planning an alternate route.
  • Check the weather report. The weather can change fairly quickly in late November, so it is highly recommended that you check the latest weather report before you start your trip. That way, you can take the necessary precautions if you are going to be driving in rain, snow, or other inclement weather conditions.
  • Avoid aggressive or reckless drivers. Do not let another driver’s bad behavior derail your Thanksgiving holiday. If you see another motorist tailgating, cutting off other drivers, weaving in and out of lanes, or making rude or offensive hand gestures, do not engage with that driver. Move to a different lane and call 911 if you think that he or she is endangering you or other motorists on the road.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Always follow the posted speed limit, do not tailgate, even if you are anxious to reach your destination, and always use your turn signals when changing lanes or making a turn. These rules are in place to keep all motorists safe and avoid serious accidents.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition. If you are traveling a long distance, it is highly recommended that you have your vehicle inspected before your trip. This will ensure that your brakes, tires, transmission, lights, and fluids are functioning properly, and that you have the opportunity to make any necessary repairs before your trip.
  • Always wear a seat belt. While wearing a seatbelt will not prevent an accident, it is one of the most effective things you can do to save your life and the lives of the other passengers in your vehicle, as well as reduce the severity of injuries in the event of a serious car accident.

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

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. We understand how devastating this can be, particularly when something like this happens during the holidays. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process, address all of your questions and concerns and fight for the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.