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Planning to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday to visit family and friends or simply to get away? You won’t be alone. A whopping 54 million Americans took to the nation’s roads, skies, rails, and waterways in 2018, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, we want to share some travel tips to remind motorists how they can have a safe Thanksgiving weekend.
Service your vehicle before hitting the road this Thanksgiving
The first step to a safe Thanksgiving road trip is preventive car maintenance. Many people make the mistake of assuming their vehicle is fine because they drive it every day. What they don’t consider is that vehicles may encounter problems when driving long distances and for an extended timeframe, rather than the fifteen minutes to and from work. Besides ensuring you have properly working windshield wipers, consider the following travel tips.
- Engine oil- Checking your oil levels is critical, especially if you will be traveling long distances. Make sure you have not gone past your oil change date and are not close to exceeding the mileage before an oil change is due.
- Belts- Aged, torn, or cracked fiber cords that are showing are all indicators that it is time for fresh belts. You can examine the belt or belts by turning them sideways with your hand. Older cars have more than one belt while newer cars often have one large belt.
- Tires- Tire pressure and tread are essential to car safety. After all, the tires on your vehicle are your contact with the road. Make sure that your tire pressure is neither over nor under the recommended pressure.
- Also check the tread on all tires to ensure they are not too worn or unevenly worn. It’s time for new tires if a tire gauge or penny test shows tread depth less than 2/32”.
- Battery- A starter that sounds sluggish is a sign of corrosion or a dying battery. The last thing you want is to get stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery. Check the terminals for corrosion, white chalky stuff, and clean it off with a wire cable brush. Make sure the positive and negative leads are tight. A harmful “voltage dump” can occur if one falls off while you are driving. This would kill the alternator and may just ruin your holiday.
Prepare in case of an emergency
If the unthinkable happens and something goes wrong during your trip, you want to be prepared; this is the key to having a safe Thanksgiving road trip. Below is a checklist of items you want to be equipped with before starting your holiday road trip.
- A spare tire and tools needed to change a flat
- An emergency kit or first aid kit
- Jumper cables
- At least a gallon of water
- Extra food
- A blanket
Get plenty of rest before travel to avoid drowsy driving
Fatigue is one of your worst enemies if you will be operating a vehicle. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to have a safe Thanksgiving road trip. Most people are anxious to get on the road and are looking forward to seeing loved ones. The problem is that fatigue is, in fact, a major factor in car wrecks over holiday breaks. AAA reports that one in five fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. To ensure you have time to get the rest you need before you get behind the wheel, have everything prepared two nights before your long-awaited holiday. If another adult will be joining you, take turns behind the wheel. Experts advise those who will be taking long road trips to stop every 100 miles or two hours for a break at a well-lit rest area. Even a quick stop to use the restroom will be helpful in avoiding drowsy driving.
Avoid driving distracted
As always, motorists should eliminate all distractions inside the vehicle. Distracted driving is quickly becoming the number one cause of fatal traffic incidents in Texas.
A few tips to eliminate distracted driving to keep you safe:
- Set your GPS before leaving
- Leave your phone in your purse or in the glove compartment
- Have a plan to entertain children in the vehicle such as coloring books, snacks, etc.
- Properly restrain your pets so they are safe and comfortable
If you choose to drive distracted, you are not only putting yourself and your loved ones in harm’s way. Other motorists traveling alongside you will also be at risk of suffering life-threatening injuries. Getting behind the wheel comes with a lot of responsibility. Make the right choices to reach your destination safely and enjoy the holiday with your loved ones!
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
No one plans to experience a catastrophic event during the Thanksgiving holiday. Staying safe on the roads is essential, and drivers should drive cautiously. However, if tragedy strikes and you or a loved one are injured in an auto collision, The Carlson Law Firm is ready to help. Our legal team has been striving to help personal injury victims and their families for over four decades. Our goal is to seek maximum compensation on your behalf and ensure you are receiving the medical care required for your recovery. Let us evaluate your case and discuss your legal options during a free consultation.