Every year, millions of Americans travel to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving Travel period, beginning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and ending on the Sunday after, sees more people traveling by car than by any other means. In fact, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for motor vehicle travel. Unfortunately, it is also one of the biggest days for motor vehicle accidents.
If you plan on driving to your Thanksgiving celebration this year, it is crucial that you plan accordingly. One of the most critical aspects of this is ensuring you have your route mapped out before leaving your house. Looking at maps or fiddling with directions on your phone can be extremely distracting and significantly increases your risk of causing an accident.
On that note, cellphone use should be avoided entirely while driving. This includes texting or typing, talking, or using your phone to listen to music. If you have a passenger, you can assign them the task of seeking songs and looking for directions. If not, set your phone and leave it be — even a moment of looking at a screen while driving can lead to catastrophic injury.
To help keep yourself and others safe, be sure to:
- Be Courteous. Allow extra time to get to your destination, use turn signals, and avoid tailgating and aggressive maneuvering
- Be Cautious. Follow traffic signs and signals, avoid speeding, and leave a gap between your vehicle and the one in front of you
- Be Sober. Avoid alcohol, marijuana, and prescription or OTC medications that can impact cognitive function and reaction time
A recent study from the AAA Foundation found that around 50 percent of drivers might be intoxicated by one or more legal pharmaceuticals, including decongestants, cough medicines, and prescription narcotics, at any time. Be sure you are not one of them to help prevent causing an accident and to improve your reaction time in the case that someone around you is not behaving as cautiously.
The Thanksgiving travel period sees one of the highest accident rates of the year. Many of these are serious. Hundreds are fatal. If you or someone you love is the victim of an accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering.
Driving carefully can help you avoid an accident, but it is not a guarantee against harm. If you need help understanding your legal options after an accident, please call Shaw Cowart, LLP at 512-499-8900 to schedule a free case review at our Austin or San Antonio office.