Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year, and although there may be slightly fewer people traveling this year because of the global Coronavirus (COVID) pandemic, roads and highways across the United States are likely to be very busy, particularly on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The more cars and trucks there are on the roads, the greater the risk of serious car accidents. In addition to heavy traffic, there are a range of other factors that can increase the risk of traffic accidents during the holiday weekend, including inclement weather, impatient drivers who may be more likely to speed, and an increase in the number of drunk or impaired drivers who may be on the roads. There are proactive steps that travelers can take to ensure that they reach their destination safely and enjoy the holiday with family and friends.
For those unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident over the Thanksgiving holiday, an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer can help you assess your potential claim and pursue any related damages.
What Thanksgiving Activities Pose the Greatest Safety Risk?
With COVID-19 cases starting to spike again in certain areas, this Thanksgiving poses a range of health risks for which travelers should be aware and take steps to minimize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified some of the most common Thanksgiving-related activities and ranked them from low to high risk, based on how likely it is that the activity could spread the COVID-19 virus. According to CDC officials, the safest thing to do is to stay home, avoid travel, and celebrate the holiday with immediate family only. In general, travel can increase the risk of contracting or spreading the virus from contact with high-touch surfaces, and close contact with people who could have the virus. However, people who plan to travel and get together with family and friends this Thanksgiving should keep the following activities in mind:
- Thanksgiving dinner should be limited to members of the household.
- Families can prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal and deliver it to family or friends who may be in the high-risk category. The food should be delivered in a way that avoids direct contact.
- A virtual meal with friends and family is an option.
- Shopping in person should be avoided on Black Friday or during the busy holiday season. Shopping online should be done as much as possible.
- Popular sporting events, parades, or movies can be enjoyed from home.
- If weather permits, Thanksgiving dinner can be enjoyed outside with a small group of family and friends.
- If visiting a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, or any other outdoor activity, families should wear a mask, practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer, and wash hands regularly.
- If attending outdoor sporting events, fans need to follow the necessary safety precautions.
- Hosting a large group of people, including friends and family from outside the household, for an indoor Thanksgiving celebration can significantly increase the risk of spreading the virus. This can be particularly dangerous if guests include the elderly, people who have compromised lungs, or those with preexisting conditions that make them at high risk.
- Attending a crowded sporting event where people are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing is not recommended.
- Going to a crowded shopping mall during the busy holiday season should be avoided. Any indoor activity where there are crowds of people can increase the risk of spreading or contracting the virus. Mask wearing and social distancing are highly encouraged. In most indoor places, these steps are required.
- Using drugs or alcohol can make people more likely to engage in unsafe or risky behavior.
How Can Drivers Avoid a Car Accident When Traveling for Thanksgiving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is an increase in the number of traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, in 2017, 528 people were fatally injured in car accidents over the course of the weekend. Approximately half of those fatalities could have been prevented if vehicle occupants were wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident. Although airports, train stations, and bus terminals also see spikes in the number of travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday, over 90 percent of the people in the United States reach their holiday destination by driving. Safety officials offer the following tips for travelers who plan to brave the crowded highways to safely enjoy the holiday with family and friends:
- Drivers should make sure that the vehicle is in good working order, and that any repairs or maintenance issues have been addressed before traveling. It is important to check the vehicle’s wipers and fluids, making sure that the radiator and cooling system have been serviced.
- The travel route should be checked to see if there are any road closures or detours. Despite having navigation systems, travelers should familiarize themselves with the route to be taken, including the name and number of the exit and landmarks to look for when getting ready to exit the highway.
- Motorists must use extreme caution when driving in the vicinity of large trucks. Drivers should avoid driving in a truck’s blind spot and never cut in front of a large truck. This can cause a serious accident, since trucks are much heavier than passenger vehicles and require much more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop.
- An emergency kit should be kept in the car. This should include a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, bottled water, non-perishable food items, a phone charger, flares, extra warm clothing, and a first-aid kit.
- Travelers should plan for extra time to get to their destination. That will help prevent motorists from becoming anxious, stressed, or aggressive while driving. In addition to traffic, weather conditions can be unpredictable this time of year and can cause major delays.
- Motorists should check the weather report for their area, as well as the weather conditions for their destination if it is several hours away.
- Motorists should follow the rules of the road at all times, particularly when navigating heavy traffic, inclement weather, road work, and other conditions that can increase the risk of an accident if they are not paying attention.
- Drivers must not drive drunk or impaired. It is common for people to overindulge in food and drink over the holidays. This becomes dangerous when people get behind the wheel of a car after having had too much to drink.
- Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of serious car accidents. When a driver’s attention is off the road for even a few seconds, it doubles the chances of an accident. Motorists should keep their attention focused on the road ahead at all times, particularly when driving in heavy traffic.
- If a motorist got too little sleep the night before a long trip, they should either wait to drive until they are able to get some sleep or arrange for another person in the family to drive. It is a good idea to make frequent stops to break up the trip and avoid drowsy driving.
- If possible, motorists should avoid driving during severe weather conditions, including snow, sleet, freezing rain, heavy wind, or torrential rain. Inclement weather can affect visibility and make road conditions very treacherous. If avoiding travel is not an option, motorists should make sure that any ice and snow is removed from the car, and that they use extreme caution by reducing their speed limit, ensuring that their headlights are working properly, and leaving extra space between their vehicle and the car in front of them. If the car breaks down or gets into an accident, the driver should pull over as far away from the road as possible and stay with the vehicle. The heater should be used only for 10 minutes every hour. A brightly colored cloth can be tied to the antenna so that rescuers can easily see the vehicle. The car’s gas tank should be kept at least half full at all times.
- Drivers and passengers must always wear a seat belt. This is one of the simplest yet most effective steps motorists can take to prevent serious, even life-threatening injuries in the event of a car accident. In 2017, seat belts saved over 14,900 lives. According to the NHTSA, over 2,500 more lives could have been saved if every motorist had been wearing a seat belt. Even passengers sitting in the back can suffer fatal injuries if they are not wearing a seat belt at the time of an accident. Children should also be properly secured in a car seat or booster seat that is appropriate for their age and weight.
Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers at ACTS Law Represent Victims of Serious Accidents Over the Thanksgiving Holiday
If you were seriously injured in a car accident while traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at ACTS Law. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident and determine who is responsible for your injuries. Protecting your rights is our top priority, and we will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 833- ACTS-LAW or contact us online.
With offices located in San Diego and Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Southern California.