Many Americans look forward to a day of feasting on turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. What they may not enjoy is the travel required to spend the holiday with their loved ones. Airports can be overcrowded, leaving some travelers to turn to the nation’s roadways to get where they need to go. Congested roadways can lead to road rage and unsafe driving practices, which can put you and your loved ones at risk. Following safe driving practices can help keep you and your passengers safe so you can enjoy turkey day. Here are some tips to ensure you get to your destination on time without sacrificing your or anyone else’s safety.
Whether you plan to drive an hour to a relative’s house or must cross several states to get to your destination, coming up with a travel plan can help keep everyone safe during your trip. For shorter trips, choose a departure time that allows for any snafus that may occur along the way that can slow you down. Traffic congestion, flat tires, and children who need to use the bathroom frequently can all slow you down. For longer distances, it is important to schedule in advance how much of the traveling you plan to do each day and where you will stay overnight for each leg of the trip.
You are less likely to get flat tires or experience other failures of vehicle components if you perform a thorough maintenance check before departing. Have a qualified mechanic go over your vehicle to check for possible issues, making any necessary repairs. New Mexico does not require annual inspections for vehicles registered in the state, only emissions testing every 2 years. It is in the best interest of vehicle owners to have routine examinations to ensure everything is functioning as intended. If you drive an unsafe vehicle, not only can it cause you serious harm, but it may cause injury or death to others. When that happens, you can be liable for neglecting to maintain your vehicle.
During the holidays, people tend to eat, drink, and be merry. If you know alcohol is part of the menu for Thanksgiving and you must drive afterward, pick a designated driver who promises to refrain from drinking. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, 2,237 alcohol-related crashes occurred, with 149 of those causing fatalities. Drivers who choose to drink and then get behind the wheel can face a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits if they cause an accident while inebriated.
People seem to have a lot less patience these days. Cases of road rage are on the rise in New Mexico. Even the most patient driver can feel their anger rising under certain driving conditions. Frustrated drivers increase their speed, can make unsafe lane changes, or tailgate and gesture at other drivers. None of these behaviors is safe while behind the wheel. Not to mention, you put yourself and your passengers at risk if someone you shake your fist at decides to get aggressive with you. If you find yourself getting upset at other drivers’ careless behaviors, it is the perfect time to take a break.
It can be tempting to keep driving, even when you feel too tired to do so, in a bid to get to your destination as quickly as possible. According to the most recent figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 697 people died in drowsy-driving-related crashes. Driving while tired is most likely to be a risk factor between midnight and 6 a.m. and in the late afternoon. During these times of day, adults experience a dip in their circadian rhythms that prompt them to rest. Taking frequent breaks can help drivers recharge so they do not fall victim to falling asleep behind the wheel. A good rule of thumb is to take 15-minute breaks every 2 hours behind the wheel. You can take a walk, have a snack, or take a quick catnap during your breaks. For long-distance trips, plan to stop each night and get a proper night’s rest. You should never drive more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period.
The two days before Thanksgiving are some of the busiest for holiday travelers. If you are going a short distance (a few hours travel time), consider leaving early on the morning of Thanksgiving instead of the day before. Wait to return until the next day, as most holiday travelers return to their original destinations on the Sunday or Monday after the holiday. If you simply cannot avoid these peak times, make sure you leave early and give yourself plenty of time if you encounter any issues.
Even the safest driving practices do not guarantee you will not become the victim of someone else’s poor driving choices. If you are the victim of a vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away to ensure your rights are protected.
Drive safely, everyone, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
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