Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Travel

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In 2015 alone, close to 42 million Americans packed up their cars and hit the road to visit family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday.

As the holiday weekend approaches again this year, people are starting to make their travel plans and figuring out who is bringing the stuffing and who is responsible for the pumpkin pie. The closer we get to the holiday, the busier people tend to be, often waiting until the last minute to prepare for the actual road trip. To avoid some of the common pitfalls of holiday travel, including
preventing serious car accidents, remember to follow these important safety tips before you start your trip.

Check the weather before you leave. The weather can fluctuate in November, which means you may be driving through rain, sleet, or snow. If the weather forecast is bad, only travel if absolutely necessary.
Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Before you leave, consider having a mechanic check your car’s antifreeze levels, brakes, exhaust system, battery, tires, and windshield wipers.
Keep your gas tank above half full. Extremely cold temperatures can cause condensation buildup in the gas tank if it is almost empty, causing the fuel lines to freeze.
Keep an emergency supply kit in the car. This should include things like jumper cables, flashlights, batteries, a first-aid kit, water, non-perishable food, blankets or sleeping bags, a basic tool kit, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a cell phone charger.
Plan ahead. Make sure that you know your exit by name and number, and move into the right lane as you approach the exit. This will help avoid needing to make an unexpected lane change, which can often cause car accidents. Plan your route, especially when you are driving in unfamiliar areas.
Buckle up. Always wear your seatbelt. This goes for everyone in the car, including passengers in the back seat. Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 45 percent.
Avoid impaired driving. If you are extremely exhausted, or you consumed alcohol with your meal, avoid driving if at all possible. Stay the night if you can and start the trip in the morning when you are rested and alert.
Make frequent stops. It is a good idea to stop every few hours, particularly if you are becoming too tired. Take the opportunity to get some fresh air, stretch your muscles, and use the bathroom.
Always follow the rules of the road. While you may be anxious to arrive at your destination, do not speed or tailgate another car because you are in a rush. Give yourself extra travel time so that you avoid this type of situation. Drive responsibly so that you arrive safely.
Do not panic if you become stuck. If your car breaks down, or you become stuck in the snow, stay with the car and attach something bright to the antenna so that rescuers can see you. If you are stuck for several hours, use the car heater for only 10 minutes every hour to conserve battery life.

One of Maryland’s “Super Lawyers,” Paul Tolzman received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Loyola University Maryland and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He was admitted to practice before Maryland Courts in 1977. Mr. Tolzman has extensive litigation experience in criminal/DUI defense. In addition, in the personal injury arena, his firm has recovered over $100 million for his clients.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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