Thanksgiving Weekend Driving Safety

There are two types of people in this world: people who think Halloween starts the holiday season, and those who think Thanksgiving Eve marks the start of the holidays. If you analyze the traffic accident statistics, you might be convinced that Thanksgiving Eve kicks off the holiday season. On Thanksgiving Eve, there are more vehicles on the road, more accidents, injuries, and fatalities, compared to non-holiday periods. The number of accidents from Thanksgiving Eve through New Years Day is higher than non-holiday times of the year.

The danger arises from both the additional traffic and the number of intoxicated drivers on the roadways. An increase in either will spike traffic related accidents, injuries, and fatalities. As a result, extra police officers will be on duty during the holiday weekend. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving Eve is still a dangerous night to travel.

In an effort to crackdown on unsafe driving, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that from November 22, 2023, through November 26, 2023, the police will focus on impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, and the “Move Over Law.” The “Move Over Law” refers to switching lanes, or if not possible, reducing speed, when approaching and passing stopped vehicles.

Rest assured, there are steps you can take to help ensure your traveling safely this Thanksgiving weekend.

Be aware of other drivers:

Ensuring your safety requires heightened vigilance and proactive measures. Take notice of a driver that is veering from its lane or driving erratically. Keep a safe distance from those vehicles. Allow ample space for sudden maneuvers, including unpredictable behaviors that you may not expect. If you are able, stay behind those drivers. Do not try to pass them, as it provides an opportunity for them to swerve into your vehicle. Be especially cautious at intersections where impaired or distracted drivers may disobey traffic signals. Prioritize your own safety by staying alert, signaling your intentions clearly, and being prepared to react to the unexpected action of other drivers.

Do not text and drive:

It is difficult to observe and anticipate the actions of other drivers if you are not looking at the road or dividing your attention. Do not text or scroll and drive. It may be difficult to avoid using your phone when you are driving, especially if you are traveling for long periods of time. Use hands-free accommodations. If you cannot resist, keep your phone out of arm’s reach or put it on “Do Not Disturb.” This can help avoid temptation to answer calls and texts. If you have to text or use your hands, pull over. Research where the designated rest stops will be on your route beforehand, so you can schedule breaks to check your phone. When you are sitting in traffic, avoid texting and scrolling. It takes a second to read or send a text, but the consequence can be severe if you are in an accident. Your goal is to be able to avoid an accident that could be caused by an intoxicated driver who is not following the vehicle and traffic laws. It may feel easy for you to use your peripheral vision to text and drive; however, with more vehicles and potentially intoxicated vehicles, you do not want to rely on your peripheral vision.

Wear a seatbelt:

For god’s sake, wear a seatbelt. This should be habitual practice every time you drive. Mandate all drivers, including backseat drivers, to wear a seatbelt, even where the law does not require it. The adage, “seatbelts save lives,” is true. If you are in an accident, seat belts can prevent you and your passengers from moving around the vehicle or being ejected.

Add extra travel time to your trip:

Allow for extra travel time to accommodate potential delays and heavy traffic. Rushing never helps. If you are traveling for long distances, bring another driver along so that you can take turns driving. If that is not possible, take frequent breaks so that you can focus clearly on the road.

Most importantly:

Have a happy Thanksgiving!