This week, millions of Americans will hit the road to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. Unlike other big holidays that fall on a specific date rather than a specific weekday, Thanksgiving traffic is fairly easy to predict. Most people will travel on Wednesday and head home on Sunday to get back in time for the work week. Travel will spike on Thursday night and all of Friday as people try to snag big Black Friday sales.
With this increase in traffic comes an increase in car accidents. In 2015, Progressive Insurance compared car accident claims during Thanksgiving week to the two weeks before and after the holiday. Their findings were staggering:
- Car accidents increase the Wednesday before Thanksgiving by 25 percent.
- Car accidents increase 20 percent by Thanksgiving night.
- Black Friday sees the biggest surge in car accidents, with a 34 percent increase. 31 percent of these accidents were backing-related or parking-related.
- Sunday sees the biggest percentage of out-of-state accidents during the holiday week.
Although these statistics are alarming, there’s no reason to cancel your Thanksgiving travel plans. Follow these tips to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe this holiday weekend.
1. Consider Different Travel Dates
Changing your travel dates may not be feasible. However, if you have some flexibility, consider avoiding the two worst days for Thanksgiving travel: Wednesday and Sunday.
If you can, consider starting your holiday weekend early and traveling on Tuesday. But if you can’t avoid traveling on Wednesday, you may have more flexibility when it comes to Sunday.
Monday has 37 percent fewer accidents than Sunday, and even Saturday has 17 percent fewer accidents. Whether you can extend your holiday weekend or you’re willing to cut it short, you may decrease your risk of getting into a car accident.
2. Keep Your Eyes on the Road
On Wednesday, nearly 60 percent of single vehicle accidents involved striking an animal or object. Car accidents caused by deer spike every fall, so be extra alert as you travel this week. Many Indiana families choose to celebrate Thanksgiving in small hometowns, and whether you’re driving home from your big-city job or from your first year at college, you may be a little out of practice when it comes to driving on country roads. Obey the speed limit, slow down if there’s heavy rain or snow, and keep your eyes peeled for any animals who wander onto the roadway.
3. Don’t Drink and Drive
In the list of holidays associated with drunk driving, Thanksgiving isn’t exactly at the top of the list. But recently, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has become a big night for going out. Known to some as “Black Wednesday” or “Blackout Wednesday,” bars and restaurants have come to expect a large sales bump on Thanksgiving Eve.
Why party the night before the big feast? Most people have Thanksgiving off, and they know that all they have to do the next day is show up and eat. Plus, many people want to get together with old friends as they travel to their hometowns for the holidays, and getting together for a nice meal seems counterintuitive when Thanksgiving dinner is the next day.
If you decide to participate in the Thanksgiving Eve festivities, make sure you have a designated driver with you to get everyone home safely. If not, make sure to use a taxi or ridesharing service to get a safe trip back home.
4. Prepare for Black Friday Chaos
Black Friday chaos has reached new levels in recent years. Now, some sales are starting as early as Thursday night. The race to get in line for sales has become more competitive than ever.
Of course, the safest option is to avoid the Black Friday chaos and take advantage of online sales. However, if you can’t resist the excitement, be sure to take a few extra precautions so you don’t have to add a new car to your shopping list.
Know what sales you want to hit and when the stores open. Try to get there as early as possible (within reason—not everyone can camp out for 24 hours before a sale). Park away from entrances, but avoid parking at the ends of aisles to minimize the risk of people hitting you as they turn into the aisle.
Consider backing into your parking spot. Most experts agree that backing into your parking spot is safer than backing out. If you choose not to back in, back out slowly when you’re ready to leave, and ask your passengers to help you look out for any oncoming traffic.
Help from an Indiana Car Accident Attorney
Thanksgiving is a time for family. It’s about sharing all the things we’re grateful for. We hope you and your loved ones have safe travels this holiday weekend.
Even if you’re the most careful driver on the road, you can’t always prevent a car accident if someone else is driving recklessly. That’s where we come in. If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to the recklessness of someone else, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation.