As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, Thanksgiving is likely to look quite different this year. With international travel bans and mandatory quarantines for visitors from certain states, many families are opting to stay closer to home this holiday season. Road trips to visit close family and friends are more practical considering current restrictions. Travelers are likely to encounter heavy traffic during Thanksgiving week. The following are tips to make the Thanksgiving holiday safer this year:
Perform a Maintenance Check
It can be stressful to break down in an unfamiliar city or at night. To keep a vehicle running smoothly, it is advised to keep up with regular maintenance. A driver should perform the following before a trip:
- Test the car battery, lights, turn signals, and brakes.
- Fill windshield washer reservoir and top off other fluids.
- Check wiper blades for excess wear and tear and replace if it is necessary.
- Check tire air pressure and depth of treads.
- Clean windows, lights, and mirrors to ensure good visibility.
Check the Weather
Fall weather in the northeast can be unpredictable. Before hitting the road, check the weather forecast for different points along the journey. Make sure the vehicle is ready for all types of weather and supplies are on board in case of a breakdown. A driver who knows what to expect can adjust their departure time and potentially avoid unpleasant weather altogether.
Put Down the Phone
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 2,800 lives were lost in a single year due to distracted driving accidents. Reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about five seconds, but it only takes two to three seconds to lose control and cause a serious car accident. Mobile phones are not the only distraction endangering the lives of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Drivers can lose control when they do the following:
- Eat a meal while driving.
- Turn to talk to passengers in the back seat.
- Change the radio or adjust other dials and equipment.
- Reach down to grab an item that has fallen.
- Put on makeup or groom while driving.
Make a pledge before every trip to pay attention. If it is hard to resist that alert for a text or email, consider downloading one of the many mobile apps available to pause incoming calls and messages.
Use a Designated Driver
For many, Thanksgiving festivities include drinking. If this is the case, plan ahead of time. Make sure to designate a sober driver. If one is not available, consider sleeping over at the host’s house or calling a rideshare service for a safe ride home. One person is killed in a drunk driving accident every 50 minutes in the United States.
Get Enough Rest
The risks of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs are well-known. However, many drivers may not realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. Lack of sleep affects the human body in many of the same ways that alcohol and certain drugs do. It slows reaction time, impairs coordination, and impacts the driver’s ability to recognize hazards. In fact, an individual who is fatigued is three times more likely to be involved in a collision than one who is well-rested. Signs that indicate it is time to pull over include:
- Having trouble keeping eyes open.
- Frequent yawning.
- Nodding off, difficulty keeping head up.
- Missing exits, road signs, and turns.
- Drifting out of the lane.
- Forgetting the last few miles driven.
When feeling fatigued, wait until it is safe to pull over and take a nap, or book a room for the night to get sleep.
Be a Defensive Driver
Defensive driving is a specific approach that encourages the motorist to predict potential hazards and take proactive steps to avoid them. By learning to anticipate risks, drivers can make informed decisions to stay safe and reduce the risk of car accidents. Key defensive driving techniques include:
- Allow sufficient stopping distance between one’s car and the vehicle ahead.
- Continually scan the road ahead for hazards and respond accordingly.
- Never assume the other driver will move out of the way or other vehicles will merge.
- Adjust speed to match the local limits and road and weather conditions.
- Make safety a priority. Avoid distractions, obey traffic signs and speed limits, and wear a seat belt.
Prepare for Emergencies
Every driver should prepare for the unexpected during their Thanksgiving travels. Keep a box with emergency supplies on board at all times. This way, if there is an accident or break down, everyone can stay safe until help is available. A well-stocked emergency kit contains:
- Hats, gloves, and blankets
- Non-perishable foods
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Flares or reflective triangles
- Basic hand tools
- Phone charger
What is the Next Step After a Car Accident?
Being involved in a car accident is a frightening experience, even if it is just a minor collision. It is important to remain composed and collected in the first few moments to keep everyone safe, get help, and document the scene for any future legal claims. After an accident, take the following steps:
- Assess everyone at the scene for injuries but avoid anyone who seems seriously hurt.
- Call emergency services for help, give the accident location, and mention if there are obvious injuries.
- If it is possible to do so safely, move vehicles out of the road to avoid another collision.
- Exchange contact information with other drivers and witnesses at the scene.
- Make a police report and report the accident to the insurance company, but do not speak to the other driver’s insurer at this time.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer for guidance about moving forward with a claim.
If immediate emergency medical attention was not necessary at the scene, seek follow-up medical care as soon as possible. It is important to note that not all injuries are immediately apparent after a motor vehicle accident. Some internal injuries have no obvious symptoms or develop and worsen over time. It is always a good idea for anyone involved in a car accident to get checked out by a doctor.
How can I Build a Strong Personal Injury Claim?
The scene of a car accident can be chaotic, but it is important to take the time to record important details of the scene. If an injured victim decides to file a personal injury claim down the road, these details may be essential to the case.
Always document the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of anyone at the scene, such as drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses. Collect the auto insurance information from other drivers directly involved in the crash. If physically able, take photographs of the accident scene, including damage to any vehicles.
When medical treatment is needed, keep copies of all bills, diagnoses, and prescriptions. Emergency room treatment, X-rays, scans, and physical therapy are all relevant to a personal injury case. It is a lawyer’s job to compile all of these details and use them to build a solid claim. Proving a reckless driver directly caused their client’s injuries is the key to recovering financial compensation for medical bills, surgeries, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Provide Premium Legal Guidance to Injured Car Accident Victims
The most responsible and cautious motorist takes steps to ensure everyone in their vehicle arrives safely, but they cannot control other drivers around them. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC help victims recover after accidents. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.