AAA has released its annual Thanksgiving travel predictions for 2019, and over 55 million people are projected to travel 50 miles or more from home for the extended weekend. More cars mean more problems, and we aren’t just talking about traffic jams. No one wants to think about it, but the National Safety Council reports that on average, there are 408 traffic deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
Tips to arrive safely at the dinner table and home again with the leftovers:
- Avoid driving on Wednesday afternoon. This is by far the busiest time on the road. Schedule allowing, plan to hit the road Wednesday morning or have your host set the DVR to record the parade and wait to travel until Thursday morning. (1)
- Designate a sober driver or plan to make use of public transportation, rideshare options or taxis. Nearly 30% of traffic fatalities involve an alcohol-impaired driver. (2)
- Get plenty of sleep. Excessive fatigue can be nearly as dangerous as other forms of impaired driving. In fact, drowsy driving caused 795 deaths in 2017. The most dangerous times for fatigue — between midnight and 6 am and late afternoon when natural circadian levels are low (another reason to avoid Wednesday afternoon travel times). (3-4)
- Buckle up. It takes seconds, and seat belts can reduce the risk of a fatality in a crash by 45%. (5)
- Take steps to minimize distractions. On average 1,000 people are injured each day in crashes that involve a distracted driver. Some easy precautions include investing in a phone mount for navigation, enabling hands free calling, and stopping for a snack rather than eating while driving. (6)
Wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!