As families travel long and short distances to gather together on Thanksgiving and begin the holiday season, the roads become more heavily traveled and the chances for car crashes go up.
In fact, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year when it comes to vehicle crashes and fatalities. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2013, there were 301 people killed in traffic crashes across the nation - and tragically, 58 percent of those killed were not buckled up. Buckling up is the single most effective step you can take to increase your chances of a safe road trip on Thanksgiving! Taking those few seconds to make sure all of your passengers, young and old, are buckled up, as well as keeping your focus on driving and preparing ahead for the trip, can make all the difference.
As motorists, you must give driving your full attention. Buckle up, check road and weather conditions and protect yourself and others on the road. Follow these steps to make sure you arrive alive:
Prepare. Make sure your car and tires are in good condition and that roads and visibility are clear. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance.
Make sure all passengers are buckled up correctly. Passengers in the back seat need to buckle up; it's the law! Make sure children are in appropriate car seats for their age, height, weight and developmental stage.
Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it's out of reach.
Pull over. If you need to make a call, first pull over to a safe area.
Secure your pets. Unsecured pets are not only dangerous to themselves and other passengers, they can also be a big distraction in the car.
Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking and any other activities that take your mind and eyes off the road.
As a reminder to buckle up, the Click It or Ticket campaign will be in force during the holiday weekend with extra officers on patrol to increase awareness and enforcement of the seat belt and car seat laws. The key message of the effort is that surviving your Thanksgiving drive this year - and making it to next Thanksgiving - can be as simple as buckling up!
For more information, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.