Thanksgiving travel: Drive smart, stay safe

Nov. 25, 2014—Whether you’re driving 5 minutes or 5 hours to Thanksgiving dinner this year, keep safety in mind.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel periods of the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). And more vehicles on the roads can mean more crashes. In fact, the National Safety Council estimates that 418 traffic fatalities and nearly 45,000 injuries will occur from car accidents between 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 26, and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 30.

The No. 1 holiday travel safety tip? Buckle up

The NHSTA reports that 6 out of 10 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belts during the 2012 Thanksgiving weekend. Male drivers, younger drivers and those driving at night were less likely than others to buckle up.

Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to reduce the likelihood of getting seriously injured or killed during a car crash. According to the NHSTA, proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent and cuts the risk of moderate to serious injury in half.

This Thanksgiving, make it a policy for everyone to buckle up as soon as they get in the car. No matter what, don’t pull onto the road until you and your loved ones are all wearing your seat belts.

More ways to drive safely during the holiday

Buckling up is the most effective way to stay safe during the busy holiday travel period, but it’s not the only thing you should do. The American Red Cross provides tips for driving—and arriving—safely this Thanksgiving:

  • Check your vehicle before heading out. Fill up your gas tank and check the tire pressure and windshield wiper fluid. Clean your headlights, tail lights, signal lights and windows.
  • Be well-rested and alert. Make frequent stops to rest and avoid zoning out. If possible, rotate drivers.
  • Stick to the speed limit. Driving too fast or too slowly can increase your risk for a collision.
  • Be a defensive driver. Be respectful of others on the road, use caution when driving through work zones and don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • Ditch distractions. Avoid texting and driving.
  • Never drink and drive. Don’t drive impaired—ever. Designate a driver who won’t drink.

By taking simple precautions on the road, you can help make Thanksgiving safer—and happier—for the people you love and the drivers around you.


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