Driving to see family and friends during Thanksgiving is common. But more cars on the road often increase the chances of getting into a car accident. In this part of the country, bad weather is also a contributing factor.
To help you and your family stay safe on the road this Thanksgiving and holiday season, here is a list of safety tips. However, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a car accident, know that you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver.
Check Your Vehicle Before Leaving
Days before you plan to hit the road, make sure your car is up to the drive. Even if you are going just an hour or two away, there are numerous things that could go wrong, putting you and your family in danger.
Check your vehicle’s:
- Tire pressure
- Tread depth
- Wiper blades
- Wiper fluid
- Coolant level
- Oil level
Pack Winter Items
In many parts of the country, you never know what type of weather late November will bring. You need to be prepared for getting stuck in winter weather. You would much rather have these items and not need them than need them and not have them.
Bring with you:
- Sand or kitty litter
- Extra gloves, hats, and blankets
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Paper towels and rags
- Drinking water
- Hand tools
- External phone charge
Do not bring a candle. Many people think a candle can help keep them warm. However, it can become a fire hazard.
Adjust Your Travel Time
Do not travel when everyone else will be on the road. Reducing the number of cars and trucks you encounter will reduce the likelihood of getting into an accident.
For Thanksgiving, Wednesday and Sunday are routinely the most heavily traveled days. If you are not going too far, you could leave on Thursday morning when there would be much less traffic. If you are going much further, you could take a little extra time off work and leave Wednesday morning or even Tuesday, giving you extra time to get to your destination before the roads become too congested.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is very important, especially when you are embarking on a stressful drive. Drowsy driving impairs your reaction time in similar ways to drunk driving. Make sure you get enough sleep before you hit the road.
If you are going on a long drive, pull over if you get too tired. Better yet, switch drivers. Do not push yourself beyond your limits. With so many other vehicles on the road and the weather being potentially hazardous, you need to be fully alert.
Put your mobile phone away. This is good advice for anytime you are driving. If you need it for directions, use the driving feature so that calls or texts do not interrupt you while you are driving.
Keep other distractions away as well. Make sure your passengers know that you need to focus on driving and are ready to help you grab a drink of water or look for the next highway exit.
Watch the Weather
In November, the weather could be sunny, or there could be lots of snow on the ground. You will not know exactly what to expect for your drive until you hit the road. But being prepared for any type of weather conditions will help you stay safe.
Checking the weather the day before you plan to leave will let you know if you should leave a little earlier than planned. If the weather forecast is treacherous, leaving even 30 minutes earlier can give you a little jump on the rest of the travelers, so long as you still get enough rest.
While driving, take breaks often. Never go beyond your limits. If you are the only driver, stop as often as you need so you can rest and stay alert.
If you have multiple drivers for your trip, change drivers regularly. You do not need to wait for the gas tank to get low before you switch drivers. Depending on your car’s gas mileage, that could be several hours. Switching frequently keeps everyone sharp.
Do Not Drink and Drive
Your family may live close enough to you that you do not spend the night after Thanksgiving dinner. After the festivities, you simply head back home. Even if that is just a few minutes away, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol so you can stay sharp.
Especially if you are leaving after dark, many people will be on the road. A good number of those people will have had wine or liquor with dinner and are now driving. Although it is their responsibility for any accidents they may cause because they have been drinking, you can keep yourself and your family safe by avoiding alcohol.
Plan Your Route and Your Alternate
Even if you have taken the trip hundreds of times, you should still plan your route in advance. You want to be familiar with the roads you are going to travel, especially if they are smaller, twisty country roads.
Extreme weather conditions can also wreak havoc on your original route. It is good to have a backup plan in case of bad weather or accidents that may block roads. If you have a backup route already planned before you depart, you do not have to scramble to find a new route if the original route is blocked. You already know your backup and can simply re-route yourself without any additional stress.
Drinking water regularly will help keep you awake and focused. It is also a relatively mundane activity that can keep you alert behind the wheel.
Drinking lots of water can seem like it would bring up a regular problem because you need more frequent bathroom breaks. However, drinking enough water so that you have to stop regularly is actually a good thing. It will not only keep you hydrated, but also give you and your passengers the chance to stretch your legs by taking regular breaks. Being behind the wheel for too long can cause boredom and drowsiness. Drinking enough water is a natural way to make sure you get out of the car routinely and stay awake.
The holidays are stressful. Time with family and friends is great, but it can also cause anxiety. Keeping your emotions in check and being patient on the road are crucial to being safe.
Traffic may be heavy. You may be on a small road behind a truck and cannot get by. Do not take risks, especially if the weather is bad. Stay patient, relax, and enjoy the time in the car with your passengers. It is much better to arrive late to Thanksgiving dinner than not arrive at all.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Help You Recover from Your Accident
Driving responsibly will help keep you and your family safe and healthy, allowing you to have a pleasant Thanksgiving. However, you may still be unable to avoid all accidents. If you find yourself in an accident, reach out to the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We have a proven track record of successful verdicts and settlements over the past 15 years. Call us today at 215-569-4888 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.