Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather for the biggest meal of the year and reflect on the people and the things that are most important to us. But the holiday is also the second-deadliest of the year, behind only the Fourth of July in terms of fatalities. The National Safety Council estimates that 433 people may be killed and almost 50,000 injured over the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled holiday period of the year, and arrests for those driving under the influence reach their highest level between Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend.
Thanksgiving Eve is especially dangerous, and if often called “blackout Wednesday,” because it is the busiest night of the year for bars. The NSC says historical trends indicate that more than one-third of fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday period involve drivers impaired by alcohol consumption.
Here are seven driving safety tips for Thanksgiving, according to the National Safety Council:
- Every person in a vehicle should buckle up on every trip.
- Make sure children are properly restrained in seats that are appropriate for their height, weight, and age. Children’s seats are not “one size fits all.” Match your child’s weight and height with the right seat.
- Drive attentively and disconnect from cell phones and other devices. Even hands-free cell phone use is risky. The AAA reports that the proportion of drivers who say they talk on the cell phone regularly when they are behind the wheel has jumped 46% since 2013.
- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue. More than 5,000 people died in drowsy-driving related accidents in 2014.
- Sign a New Driver Deal with teen drivers. This program helps young drivers deal with night driving, when young people are allowed to driving during the day, and how to deal with driver distractions.
- Understand how opioid pain relievers may affect your ability to drive safely. Opiods can slow reactions, and make drivers sleepy.
- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Many modern cars have complex safety systems that include lane-departure, radar-assisted cruise control, and automatic braking. Not all of these are simple to use without a review of the manual.