Hitting the Road for the Holidays?

Stephanie Specht's picture
By Stephanie Specht on November 20, 2018

If you are planning to hit the road to visit family and friends this Thanksgiving, you are not alone. AAA estimated that 54.3 million people will be traveling at least 50 miles from home for the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday.

That is a 4.8 percent increase over last year. With that in mind, it is important to pack some extra patience and remember some common sense safety tips for your trip.

“Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times of the year, and unfortunately it also means that there is the potential for more vehicle crashes,” said Jill Lucas-Drakeford, a Carilion Clinic community health educator and the coordinator for Safe Kids Southwest Virginia.

According to Lucas-Drakeford, the number one thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is to BUCKLE UP!

“Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing that you can do to safeguard your life while on the road,” she explained. 

As you make plans and get ready for your family road trip, remember these tips to help keep you, your family and everyone else on the road safe:

1. Be a role model for others and always remember to buckle up, even on short trips.

2. Make sure that children are secured properly with safety belts and age-appropriate child safety seats. Approximately 80 percent of children are not properly secured in car seats. If you have questions, ask a certified car seat technician or attend one of our car seat safety checks.  

3. Remind everyone in your vehicle to always buckle up, using both the lap and shoulder belt. The shoulder belt should be snug against the chest and the lap belt should sit low and tight across the hips, under your stomach.

Think using your safety belt does not matter? Think again. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2016 (6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23, to 5:59 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28), there were 341 people killed in traffic across the country. About half of those who died weren’t wearing seat belts.

NHTSA’s research indicates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent. In 2016 alone, seat belts saved 14,668 lives. But if everyone had worn seat belts on every trip that year, 2,456 more lives could have been saved.

Other safety tips for the road include:

  • Don't drink and drive. Always designate a sober driver.
  • Check your road conditions and allow extra time when traveling long distances.
  • Obey speed limits. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle's stopping distance and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.
  • Take breaks every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Rotate driving responsibilities.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Driving and cell phones don’t mix so put your phone away while driving.

Stay safe this holiday weekend and remember to buckle up every trip, every time.