Anyone who has ever traveled during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s – and that is the vast majority of Americans – knows that the airways and the roadways get significantly busier. Though the airlines try to entice travelers with lower fares during the holiday season, the majority of travel is done on the ground. In fact, 91 percent of holiday travel is done by personal vehicle according to the U.S Department of Transportation. Thanksgiving Day consistently comes in as the most traveled day during the week of Thanksgiving. Because the day on which Christmas and New Year’s Day fall changes each year, the busiest travel day during the Christmas/New Year’s period fluctuates as well; however, when they fall on a weekday the previous Saturday generally takes the prize for the busiest travel day. Unfortunately, some of the most dangerous driving days of the year also fall during the Thanksgiving/New Year’s holiday period. According to AAA, almost 100 million people will travel by road long-distances over the holiday season to visit family and friends. Estimates tell us that close to 30,000 of those travelers will suffer serious injury and over 250 will be fatally injured. If you plan to travel this year, please read the following “Tips for staying safe during holiday travel.”
- Travel with a back-up driver. Though many people do not realize it, drowsy driving is every bit as dangerous driving under the influence. When possible, travel with another driver. Change drivers every two hours or every 100 miles.
- Avoid driving at night. Driving at night increases your risk level significantly for several reasons. First, visibility is diminished. Second, you may become drowsy and fall asleep behind the wheel. Finally, though it can occur at any time of the day or night, you are more likely to encounter a drunk driver at night.
- Stay off the roadways during the busiest travel times when possible. Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, and the week-end before Christmas are all but guaranteed to be busy. If possible, plan your trip around those days.
- Make sure your vehicle is safe. Before you head out, check the tires, have the oil changed (if needed), replace wipers and fix any known issues with the vehicle.
- Do not drink and drive. Celebrations and alcohol go hand in hand. Participate in as many toasts as you wish, but do not get behind the wheel if you do choose to drink. Moreover, be aware that the number of alcohol related crashes increases notably over the holiday period, with New Year’s Eve/Day consistently coming in at number one.