Thanksgiving Day is only a week away. Before hunkering down into a delicious spread of home cooked favorites, you have to figure out how to get there first. AAA is predicting a record number of travelers this holiday, exceeding 54 million Americans traveling more than 50 miles from their home.
Prepare Now For Thanksgiving Travel Nightmares
Travel hazards causing injuries and fatalities always increase around the holidays and now is the time to plan and prepare. Thanksgiving is particularly dangerous as most employers do not offer the Wednesday prior off, resulting in a slew of fatigued, rushed, and distracted travelers trying to get to their destinations for the holiday. Whether you’re hitting the open road, taking a flight, or simply walking a few city blocks to your Thanksgiving feast, planning for safety will reduce your risk of unnecessary accidents this holiday.
Dangers on the Open Road
Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous and fatal holidays on the road. At least 48.5 million travelers will choose to take a car to get to their Thanksgiving celebrations this year according to AAA, which is also the most dangerous of all major modes of transportation. The National Safety Council (NSC) is estimating around 433 fatalities and 49,400 serious injuries resulting from vehicle accidents this holiday- none of which are anything to be thankful for.
To help avoid traffic accidents, here are the most common road hazards motorists should prepare for and safety tips to avoid injuries in the case of a crash:
Congested Roads: AAA reports major cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Boston see an increase of quadruple the normal drive times as Thanksgiving approaches. Drivers stuck in traffic tend to use aggressive and dangerous maneuvers to avoid waiting in traffic, putting others around them at risk. To avoid causing accidents: drive defensively (not aggressive), always use traffic signals, leave plenty of room between cars, and always wear your seatbelts to reduce the severity of crash injuries.
Distracted Drivers: Drivers on the road this Thanksgiving have to fight to concentrate on congested roads, in over-packed cars, and among countless other distractions around them. To help stay alert: reduce distractions inside the vehicle by turning down the music, keeping conversations with passengers to a minimum, and don’t use any electronic devices (including phones) while driving.
Drunk Drivers: In 2016, the NSC reported that 34% of the fatal accidents during the Thanksgiving Day period were caused by impaired and drunk drivers. Holiday drinking is common but keeping impaired drivers off the road can be difficult. If you want to drink this holiday, make sure you do not have to drive home. Take an alternate mode of transportation, secure a designated driver, or stay the night to avoid putting others in danger.
Broken Down Cars: AAA expects to rescue nearly 360,000 motorists due to car trouble this holiday. Oil changes, fluid leaks, dead batteries, and tire issues are the most common culprits. Motorists should make sure to get their vehicles fully inspected to prevent breakdowns that put passengers and drivers at serious risk if broken down on the side of a busy road.
You are generally safer on a plane than traveling in a car during Thanksgiving but accidents can still occur that can cause serious injuries and tragic fatalities. These accidents typically happen in-flight, the most common including:
- Falling Baggage: In an attempt to avoid extra baggage costs, travelers are stuffing heavier carry-on bags into the overhead compartments posing an increased risk of serious injuries to passengers below. Falling bags cause an estimated 4,500 injuries every year, so make sure the bag you are placing over your head is not too overstuffed.
- Turbulence: Nearly 60 passengers are seriously injured every year due to airplane turbulence according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Turbulence injuries can range anywhere from traumatic head injuries to broken bones. To reduce your risk of turbulence-related injuries, the FAA suggests: always buckling up when seated, listening to flight attendant’s warnings, use approved child seating, and only get up when absolutely necessary when the seatbelt sign is not on.
- Slip and Falls: AAA estimates at least 4.27 million travelers will take flight this Thanksgiving, causing large crowds and long lines. Slips and falls over packed aisle ways, drink/food spills, abandoned luggage, and other travelers can be common, especially during a holiday weekend. Make sure to plan ahead for your flight so you don’t have to rush and stay alert to what is in front of you to avoid falls.
- Food Cart Crashes: Everyone looks for the food cart to come but no one wants to get run over by it! Food carts can be extremely heavy and cause serious injuries to passengers in the aisle way in the case of a runaway cart. Keep the aisles near you clear, keep all hands/arms/leg/feet in your seat if sitting on the aisle and keeps kids by the window seats to avoid unnecessary food cart injuries.
Trains, Buses, and Pedestrian Hazards
For commuters who are taking the subway, train, bus, or a walking to their holiday get together, be prepared for more traffic than ever. AAA predicts an increase of at least 1.4 percent in passengers traveling by bus and train this year. With increased traffic brings higher risk of accidents, leaving commuters in danger if they are not traveling safely.
New York City and Long Island travelers can use these safety reminders from NYC The Official Guide to prevent injuries during their holiday commute next week:
Subway and Trains
- Always stay behind the yellow line at the platform stations.
- Be mindful of the platform sizes. Some are larger than others and falls can occur with packed platforms.
- Do not hold subway or train doors open. Keep all hands and possessions inside the car.
- Do not use the doors inside the cars to walk between unless instructed to or absolutely necessary.
- Only buy MetroCards from approved vendors and kiosks.
Taxi, Lyft, Uber and other
- Only use licensed vehicles for travel.
- Stay clear from the curb as cabs and cars approach.
- Buckle up when possible.
- Do not leave the vehicle before it has completely stopped.
Walking and Biking
- Bikes and pedestrians should follow all traffic rules.
- Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to traffic.
- Only walk in crosswalks.
- Ride bikes in cycling zones when available.
- Never assume cars see you.
Travel Safe This Thanksgiving
The law firm of Siler & Ingber knows that getting to and from your holiday celebration can be extremely stressful. But with plenty of time for planning and safety preparation, your chances for a safe and enjoyable holiday can be greatly increased.
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious travel injury this holiday, our expert team of personal injury attorneys is here to fight for your right to safety. Contact us today for a free consultation to review your options for seeking compensation for any damages suffered in your accident.