Arrive Alive During Thanksgiving Travel
In the six-day travel period surrounding Thanksgiving, trips of 50 miles or more increase by 54 percent compared to the rest of the year, even topping Christmas and New Year’s, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
When personal vehicle trips are counted as part of holiday travel, a National Household Travel Survey shows long-distance travel is heavier the day of the holiday than on Wednesday.
In fact, 91 percent of holiday travel is done by personal vehicle, compared to about 5 to 6 percent by air and 2 to 3 percent by bus, train or ship. Roadways might not be as crowded as they are during morning and afternoon rush hours. But people will be hurrying to reach grandma’s house or they’ll by traveling farther than usual and that means a greater chance for automobile accidents.
Oklahoma City reported 1,526 car crashes in November 2013, just behind October and August, even though November has only 30 days, according to Oklahoma Highway Safety Office statistics.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) urges motorists to travel safely to avoid the disastrous Thanksgiving holiday travel period in 2011 when six people died in four crashes over the five-day period.
These common-sense steps offered by OHP can help avert disaster during the holidays:
- Give yourself plenty of time to make the drive. If dinner starts at noon and you have a two-hour drive to make, leave well before 10 a.m.
- If you’re taking medication, make sure it doesn’t cause sleepiness or dizziness that could impair your ability to drive or react while behind the wheel.
- Ensure all children are properly secured in age-appropriate car seats and that all passengers are wearing seat belts.
- All drivers should put away cell phones and avoid using technology that could distract them from the primary task of driving.
- If alcohol is served at a Thanksgiving Day get-together, make sure a non-drinking, designated driver is appointed before the party starts. Then, there won’t be any disagreement about who is driving once it’s time to leave.
Travel Channel offers this advice for holiday trips, especially if you’re going across the country:
- Get started early: Make travel arrangements in the early fall if you’re flying. Not only can you get lower rates and a better shot at a good seat, you’ll avoid the headaches of dealing with booked airlines or trains.
- Travel light: Don’t try to carry your entire wardrobe on the trip. An overnight bag is likely to work, but remember that others might have the same idea. Consider shipping bulky items ahead of time.
- Select better days: Try not to fly in on Wednesday and out on Sunday, the two heaviest flying days of the holiday. Consider flying in on Monday or Tuesday and then going back home on Friday or Saturday when the masses will be at the shopping malls.
- Use technology: Cell phones are equipped with information, or you can download an app, that can help you navigate airports and cut your time waiting.
- Drive time: If you’re making a drive, listen to weather and traffic reports to avoid bad wrecks that could leave you stuck in traffic or in ice and snow. If you’re going to a new destination, check a GPS or smart phone for directions before leaving.
The last thing you want this Thanksgiving is for your holiday to be marred by a serious car accident. Take every precaution possible to avoid an accident and protect your family with good planning.
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