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Plan Ahead: Thanksgiving Travel Safety Tips

Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.
Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.

November 25, 2015

a road with yellow lines and trees

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the deadliest times to be on the road. More people are out driving to visit family and friends than at any other time of the year. With the increased traffic comes an increase in accidents. More than 300 people were killed in vehicle accidents in the U.S. during a recent Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

As personal injury attorneys, we know too well the devastation that ravages the families of road accident victims. We urge you to take a few simple precautions that can greatly increase your safety.

Seat Belts Really Do Save Lives

Consider this: The NHTSA found that over the most recent Thanksgiving weekend for which data is available, 58 percent of the people who died in road accidents were not wearing seatbelts. After dark, those who weren’t wearing their seat belts fared even worse: an astonishing 64 percent of nighttime vehicle accident fatalities over the Thanksgiving weekend were not buckled up.

Buckling up is a quick, simple action that has powerful live-saving effects.

Most people do wear seat belts. In the United States, 87 percent of drivers and passengers are buckled up. That’s far better than it used to be, but it still leaves 13 percent of the people on the road who are taking an unnecessary risk — and who are accounting for far more than their share of accident deaths and serious injuries.

More men than women die in crashes while not wearing seat belts, and more drivers between the ages of 21 and 35 than older drivers. If you are in one of these at-risk groups, you can increase your odds of making it through the holiday weekend by simply taking two seconds to fasten your seat belt.

Check Out Your Vehicle

Before setting off on a Thanksgiving weekend trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Check your tires, including your spare, to see if they are in good shape and are properly inflated. Ensure you are up to date on all your maintenance, that your hoses are in good shape, and that your car has no leaks.

Prepare for Emergencies

As part of your preparation, make sure you have all the equipment you will need should the unexpected happen and you get stranded. In much of the country, you should be prepared for extended cold and snow conditions. Check that you have jumper cables, blankets, flashlights, and enough food, water, and any necessary medication to tide you over until you can get help.

If you do get stranded, avoid running the engine for too long with the windows closed, as you could get carbon monoxide poisoning.

Stay Focused

When people get relaxed over the holiday, they may pay less attention to the road than they normally would. But you should be paying more attention than usual, not less. The roads may be more crowded, many people may be driving after having a glass or two of wine, and other drivers may also feel similarly relaxed and inclined to be inattentive. Because of these conditions, you should be at your most alert and attentive. Distractions from phones and other gadgets are always dangerous, but can be even more risky during the holiday weekend.

While it may be unpleasant to think about injury and death at such a festive time, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. By taking these easy, common sense steps to staying safe, you can help ensure that this Thanksgiving will be one that creates wonderful memories for you and your loved ones.

Do You Need a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney?

While you can, and should, increase your odds of staying safe, unfortunately, accidents can happen to anyone at any time. If you or a loved one should have the misfortune of being in a personal injury accident, and you need a personal injury lawyer, the experienced attorneys at Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd. are here for you. Call us today for a free consultation.

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