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Personal Injury

How to Have a Safe Road Trip this Thanksgiving

October 06, 2021

Getting the vehicle serviced, preparing for emergencies, and packing safely before leaving home are crucial steps to take to ensure a safe Thanksgiving road trip. During the trip, drivers should avoid distractions and take breaks. Thanksgiving is a popular holiday for traveling, and the influx of holiday travelers on the road can increase the risk of crashes. With some planning, people can make their car rides safer and less stressful during the holiday period.

Preparing the Car

A car should not be assumed to be ready for a long Thanksgiving trip because it has been running without issues. One should take his or her vehicle to a trusted local mechanic for a thorough overall inspection. That should include having the oil changed, all fluids topped up, the tire rotations and air pressure checked, and ensuring everything is in excellent working condition. Any pending repairs should be completed before leaving home.

Maintenance checks before a long trip help prevent many problems that could leave a family stranded in a strange locale. Considering the number of hours that people spend in vehicles during road trips, it is a good idea to give cars a thorough cleaning before hitting the road. A clean car helps make the trip more pleasant and safer.

Preparing for Emergencies

Disaster can strike any time, so planning for the unexpected is essential. One should stock his or her vehicle with an emergency kit. A good kit has anything that victims may need during an emergency, car repair, or a long wait for help to arrive. Some emergency kit essentials include:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight, reflective gear, and road flares
  • Water and nonperishable food
  • Blankets

It is also advisable to get a roadside assistance plan. Roadside rescue companies offer many helpful services besides towing in case of a breakdown. Some can bring gas or give directions if one is lost.

Packing Safely

Items packed in the seating areas of cars can cause injuries when a driver brakes fast. It is best to stow items in the trunk, as any shifting items there are most unlikely to injure occupants. Nonetheless, people should be aware of the safe capacity of their vehicles. All cars have recommended combined weight for cargo and passengers.

An overloaded vehicle can make the wheels heat up and bulge out, increasing the chances of a blowout. Excess weight also affects steering ability, suspension/traction control, and brakes. People can easily weigh down their cars when traveling with kids. An excellent way to avoid that is by only carrying what is necessary.

Pets should be properly secured in a harness or carrier to keep them safe during road trips. Children and any loose possessions and items that can roll around should be safely secured before departing on a trip.

Avoiding Distractions

Distracted driving is dangerous, especially when the roads are crowded. Road trips top Thanksgiving travel plans. In 2020, AAA Travel projected that 47.8 million Americans would travel by road for Thanksgiving, accounting for 95% of all Thanksgiving travel. With the roads crowded with other travelers during Thanksgiving week, people must be vigilant as they drive.

Use of Cellphones

Many distracted driving cases that accident lawyers handle arise from cellphone use while driving. Drivers are up to four times more likely to be involved in an accident when talking on their phones, and eight times more likely to crash when texting.

For safe driving during a Thanksgiving road trip, drivers should avoid using their cell phones while driving. They could activate the “Do Not Disturb” mode on their phones. Another option is to give their phones to passengers to let them do the texting or talking.

Other Distractions

Accident lawyers consider anything that requires a driver to take his or her attention or eyes off the road to be a driving distraction. That includes the use of navigation systems or infotainment systems and drinking or eating. Staying alert while a person is driving requires avoiding all distractions.

Drivers can adjust mirrors, seats, and climate controls and preprogram the GPS before driving. To avoid having to look for radio stations during road trips, drivers can prepare their music needs beforehand. They can:

  • Plan their routes around major cities to keep their radios streaming
  • Burn CDs or fill their MP3 players

Taking Breaks

Too much time behind the wheel can take a toll on one’s body and mind. A person should plan his or her route to include frequent stops. These stops allow a driver to stretch periodically, which will keep blood circulating and prevent his or her arms and legs from getting stiff during driving. Breaks also help a person maintain alertness.

People can also avoid driver fatigue by making a driver swap every few hours. These swaps also allow the drivers to enjoy the view of the road trip.

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey  Goldberg
Attorney Jeffrey M. Goldberg has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability and related accidents.