Buckle Up: Holiday Driving Accidents on the Rise as Thanksgiving Approaches

The end of the year is characterized by many changes. Events like a change in weather and temperature, coupled with daylight savings time serve to both symbolically usher in the holidays and bolster the economy, especially since consumers are more prone to willingly open their wallets in preparation for Christmas. However, aside from these things, and even more significantly, the holidays also herald the most dangerous time of the year for motorists.

Thanksgiving, in particular, is the most traveled holiday period of the year, as revelers load up their vehicles and head for the highways. Unfortunately, this means that Thanksgiving is also the deadliest holiday period of the year- surpassing the 4th of July, Memorial weekend, and even Christmas – as approximately 90% of those traveling elect to do so by passenger vehicle in lieu of other modes of transportation. Car accident attorneys recognize that an increased number of motorists on the road also translates into an increase in the number of both fatal and non-fatal car accidents.

For example, during the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday (which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 24, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, November 29) 337 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide. This year, the Thanksgiving travel holiday period began at midnight on November 12 and ostensibly continues through the 26th. In an effort to curtail the number of accidents this year, the Buckle up America initiative began proactively urging people to be cautious on the roads, with the simplest tip offered being (not surprisingly) to buckle up. Their website this year first greets viewers with a simple message beneath a photo of a sumptuous holiday spread. “Your family is expecting you. So, please buckle up,” the caption reads.

Statistics taken from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only bolster the validity of Buckle up America’s advice. In fact, according to them, of the 337 fatal Thanksgiving crashes in 2010, 55 percent of those who died were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their accident. Conversely, it was proven that proper seatbelt use saved an average of 12,500 lives annually. There’s a definite theme to the holiday travel messages the year. Similar to Buckle up America, the 2012 Thanksgiving travel message promulgated by NHTSA’s Click it or Ticket campaign focuses on occupant protection, with the primary message being, “Buckle Up America. Every Trip. Every Time.”

Likewise, the National Safety Commission, in a 2009 Thanksgiving safety announcement, also cited proper seatbelt use as a major crash deterrent. But the agency also cited additional factors, such as speeding and choosing to travel during extended rush hours when drivers throw logic out of the window in favor of impatience. Although this particular article is from 2009, motorists this year would still be well-advised to follow the precautionary driving tips delineated below:

• Try to leave when traffic is lighter and safer.
• Get enough rest and don’t try to drive when you would normally be asleep.
• Swap driving duties with a companion
• To remain alert, stop every 2 hours or 100 miles.
• Check for weather conditions along your route and leave earlier if necessary.
• Wear your seat belt. Seat belts are proven to save lives and prevent injuries.
• Make sure children are secured in an approved child safety seat.
• Use your cruise control to prevent speeding.
• Don’t answer your cell phone while driving. Let your cell phone take a message and pull off the road to answer your calls.
• Don’t consume alcohol. Buzzed driving is the same as drunk driving.

For more tips, visit: http://alerts.nationalsafetycommission.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-traffic-safety-2009.php.

A final word of advice: avoid a car crash and have a wonderful start to your 2012 holiday season.

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