Almost 50 million Americans are estimated to travel this Thanksgiving. The majority of those will be on the roads, driving to and from their destinations. Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? If so, you aren’t alone.

With the vast number of people expected to be on the roads this Thanksgiving season, the potential for car accidents is high. An estimated 18,689 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the first half of the year. That number is expected to rise during the second half of the year with such high rates of end-of-the-year holiday travel.

Don’t let a car accident ruin your Thanksgiving holiday. Here are a few holiday travel safety guidelines to help ensure the safety of you and your family.

  • Check your vehicle fluid levels, battery and fill up with gas before leaving. Proper car maintenance and a full tank of gas can go a long way to ensure you don’t become stranded during your travels.
  • Have a plan. Be prepared with emergency supplies in case of an accident, breakdown or medical emergency. A basic emergency kit should include a flashlight, blanket, first-aid kit, tools and bottled water. Many accidents occur when drivers become stranded on the side of the highway. If your vehicle breaks down or you are in an accident, remember your safety is paramount. If possible, pull the car completely onto the shoulder or off of the road. All vehicle occupants should exit the vehicle on the side opposite oncoming traffic and wait for help as far back from the road as possible. Turn on your hazard lights and set up safety triangles behind and next to your vehicle to warn other drivers.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle. Your car has a specified weight limit. Check the load capacity on your car, which is typically printed on a label inside the driver’s side door, to be sure you aren’t overloading your vehicle with luggage and passengers.
  • Recognize “Move Over” laws. Keep your eyes out for other drivers who may be stranded. If you see a vehicle on the side of the road, slow down and move over.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Drinking and driving, as well as distracted driving, are leading causes of accidents nationwide. Drivers who text while driving are four times more likely to be in a car accident. Keep your focus on the road.
  • Avoid late night driving. Nighttime makes it more difficult to see the road as well as other traffic. Plan your holiday trip to avoid traveling at night.
  • Drive in the right lane.  Sticking to the right lane can save your life from drunk drivers, and wrong-way drivers alike. Often times drunk drivers drift out of their lane or into oncoming traffic. The further you are to the right of the road, the better your chances of avoiding being side swiped or hit head-on by a drunk driver.

If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed as the result of a car accident, contact Ritchie Reiersen for a free consultation with a Washington personal injury attorney.