In 2014, AAA forecast that 89% of Thanksgiving travelers (that’s 41.3 million people) would travel by automobile over the holiday weekend. The National Safety Council predicted that because of driving accidents there would be 418 deaths and just under 45,000 non-fatal injuries serious enough to require medical attention during the same time period. This makes the Thanksgiving holiday period (Wednesday to Sunday) the third most dangerous holiday for road fatalities in the U.S.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe and avoid car accidents while on the road this holiday season:

Make sure your vehicle is prepared. Check the fluid levels and tire pressure. Ideally, you should have a mechanic give the vehicle a once-over to assure that belts are in good condition and the battery is working properly. Replace your windshield wipers, if needed. Don’t forget to make sure you have a full tank of gas before hitting the road!

Plan your route. With so much technology available, it’s easy to fall back on navigation systems when driving. However, if there are accidents on the road ahead, weather conditions that require last-minute detours, or loss of reception on your mobile phone, you’ll be glad you have a backup such as printed directions or a map.

Don’t be distracted. The high number of holiday travelers means more people who might make mistakes. Try to avoid being one of them. Obey posted speed limits and other traffic rules. Keep your eyes on the road. Ignore texts and calls until you can pull over to deal with them safely.

Pack smart. Make sure that you aren’t exceeding your vehicle’s load capacity with all the stuff you plan to take to grandmother’s house. Don’t forget to pack an emergency kit, including a first aid kit, a flashlight and some basic tools. Be sure to have your license, registration and insurance information as well as contact numbers for roadside assistance and your auto insurance company. It is also a good idea to make sure you have your cell phone charger with an adapter for the car, if needed.

Be patient. The holidays are often a rushed and stressful time, but decisions made in frustration may put you or others at risk. Staying calm and being prepared will help you enjoy the holiday season.

Seek assistance. Should all else fail and you find yourself involved in a car accident during the holiday season, there are few things more valuable that having an advocate who knows the law and can protect your rights. Contact us discuss how we can help.

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