Thanksgiving & Driving 2012

Thanksgiving is a time here in the USA when families gather to share a meal, watch football and go shopping.  It’s a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, because everyone is traveling to get to their reunion location (or even to go to the mall for supplies, treats or presents) the roads can be a nightmare of congestion and traffic delays due to drivers who may be lost, looking for a turnoff, distracted by traffic apps and navigation systems, or just plain angry that they’re stuck in all this mess.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to remind everyone to buckle up during the holiday period.  While seatbelt use is at all time highs, anyone who fails to wear their restraint is exposed to the same potential outcomes — injuries and even death.  As NHTSA says, “Buckle UP, America!”

Lost?  Stuck in traffic behind a crash? Using apps on smartphones to find alternate routes or directions to grandma’s house may be productive, but only if they’re not being used by the driver while he or she is driving!  Let a co-pilot manage the directions or simply agree to only access apps while safely parked on a side street or mall parking lot, etc.  Distractions also come from passengers who are either excited to be traveling or those who are bored and cranky from being couped up for too long.  Taking breaks on long trips can help the driver in many ways (i.e. fresh air and a little exercise refresh the body and mind — and give the passengers a chance to do the same).

It is important to remind folks that drinking and driving related crashes tend to spike around holidays.  “Buzzed Driving = Drunk Driving” (see the embedded video, below.  It was produced by NHTSA and the AdCouncil about a Thanksgiving holiday crash).  As a responsbile driver, no one should be tempted to use the excuse “but it was only one drink” — one drink too many leads to tragic outcomes.  Drinking and driving is a choice, not a chance — luck should never be a factor someone depends on when avoiding crashes.  Designated drivers save lives.

Eating too much Turkey?  Drivers who drive “drowsy”, especially during late night or early morning hours could easily fall asleep behind the wheel without realizing what’s happening until it’s too late.  Exercise, fresh air and a balanced diet can help with this issue.  Coffee is at best a “band-aid” for drowsiness and not dependable!  Be vigilant so that driving home after a long feast doesn’t become the last trip you ever make.

Now, no one wants to think about morbid issues like traffic fatalities during festive celebrations, but the shocking reality of getting “the phone call” that a loved one is never celebrating another holiday feast with their family, friends and neighbors isn’t on anyone’s wish list either.

Make time to remind your family and friends to be extra vigilant with their driving during the holidays – it’s a good use of your time and it shows that you care about them.  Don’t let a failure to wear seatbelts, a text message, rushing to get there, or “one-drink-too-many” tragically ruin what should be a time of celebration and thanksgiving for all the freedom, privileges and gifts we enjoy as a nation.

Here are a collection of tips and facts provided by NHTSA for you to consider and to share:

  • Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective way to save your life and the lives of your loved ones while on the road this Thanksgiving holiday.
  • One of the best ways to ensure a safe arrival at any destination is to buckle up, every trip, every time.
  • With the help of highway safety advocates and local law enforcement officers across the country, we can increase seat belt use and save lives on our roadways.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 alone, seat belts saved more than 12,500 lives nationwide.
  • With proper seat belt use, research shows that the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent. 
  • Yet, nationally in 2010, 51 percent of the 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes.
  • During the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday (which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 24, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, November 29) 337 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide, and 55 percent of those killed were unbelted. 
  • Nighttime hours are the most dangerous.  In 2010 nationally, 61 percent of the 10,647 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 42 percent during the daytime hours.
  • Unfortunately, nighttime fatalities spike over the Thanksgiving holiday. During the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 64 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unbelted, while only 41 percent of daytime fatalities during those same days involved unbelted passenger vehicle occupants.

SafetyFirst Systems provides comprehensive driver safety programs to commercial and sales fleets throughout North America.  We help more than 3800 active fleet clients to mitigate collisions in such diverse businesses as telecomunications, food & beverage, local delivery, construction, HVAC, human services, arborists and municipalities.

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