Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family to enjoy a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings. However, it is also one of the most heavily traveled holidays of the year. People who did not see friends and family last Thanksgiving due to COVID-19 travel restrictions are very much looking forward to the holiday this year, despite having to deal with heavy traffic.
Each year, approximately 50 million people travel for Thanksgiving, mostly by car. The increased number of motorists on the roads, combined with a number of other factors, cause car accidents to spike during the Thanksgiving holiday break.
What Are the Main Causes of Thanksgiving Car Accidents?
More motorists on the road means more accidents. However, that is just one of the factors that causes a spike in car accidents over Thanksgiving break. The following are some of the most common causes of car accidents on and around Thanksgiving:
- Increased traffic: Millions of Americans will be traveling by car this Thanksgiving. Some people only have to drive a few miles to get to the destination, while others may have to travel several hundred miles. Either way, there are significantly more cars on the roadways, which leads to more accidents.
- Inclement weather: As fall progresses, the weather can be unpredictable. It can also change quickly from rain to freezing rain and snow. Black ice is also extremely dangerous because motorists usually do not see it until they hit the ice with their vehicle and start to skid. Inclement weather can cause road conditions to become unsafe, particularly at night when visibility is also a concern.
- Drunk driving: Alcohol is often served at Thanksgiving dinner celebrations. In addition, people often gather at restaurants and bars over the course of the week and weekend to see friends who are home from college or to spend time with family who are visiting. Too often, people get behind the wheel of a car after consuming too much alcohol. Drunk drivers have slower reaction times, less coordination, and impaired judgment, which significantly increases car accidents.
- Drowsy driving: Eating a large meal can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. If you also traveled earlier in the day, you may be exhausted by the end of the day. Driving is one of the top causes of car accidents throughout the year, particularly during Thanksgiving break. The more tired you are, the more likely it is that you could cause a serious car accident.
- Drivers who are unfamiliar with the area: If you are constantly checking the navigation app on your phone or calling a friend for directions, you will be more likely to be involved in an accident. In addition, if you are not familiar with the area, you may not be aware of sharp curves in the road or other hazards that may cause you to swerve into another lane or slam on your brakes.
How Can I Avoid a Car Accident on Thanksgiving?
You cannot control the way other motorists drive, but you can make safety a top priority and take proactive steps to ensure that you and your passengers arrive at your destination safely. As you prepare for the holiday weekend, keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Anticipate heavy traffic. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, and try to avoid peak travel times.
- Be patient. Getting stuck in traffic can be frustrating, but do not take it out on other drivers by tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, slamming on your brakes, or cutting off other motorists. This will not get you to your destination any sooner.
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good working order. Have a skilled mechanic check the tire pressure, brakes, the engine, headlights and taillights, and turn signals. Refill any fluids that are running low, and have any repairs done before your trip.
- Get plenty of rest before driving a long distance. Take plenty of breaks along the way to get out of the car, stretch, and get some fresh air. If possible, share the driving responsibilities with another adult driver.
- Plan your route. Map out your route before you hit the road so that you have a good idea of where you are going and how long it will take to get there.
- If you have consumed alcohol, do not drive. Either stay the night where you are, get a ride home with someone who has not been drinking, or call a rideshare service.
- Wear a seat belt. This may not prevent an accident, but wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways you can prevent serious injuries. Make sure that all passengers are buckled up as well.
What Should I Do After a Thanksgiving Car Accident?
Nothing derails a holiday weekend like getting into a car accident. However, knowing what steps to take immediately following the accident can make the ordeal less stressful and overwhelming:
- Report the accident. Call 911 immediately so that dispatch can send police to the accident scene. They will also send emergency medical technicians if there are injuries. When police arrive at the scene, they will talk to both parties, ask questions about the accident, and write a police report.
- Seek immediate medical care. Even if you did not suffer a serious injury, it is important that you are examined by a skilled medical professional after an accident. Some injuries do not show up right away, or the adrenaline rush can mask certain symptoms. Failing to seek medical care also sends a message to the other driver and your insurance company that your injury must not be very serious.
- Take pictures. If you are physically able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle, the position of the other vehicle compared to yours, your injuries, any skid marks or debris on the road, and the current weather conditions.
- Talk to witnesses. If there were people who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide an official statement. Ask for their contact information as well.
- Exchange information with the other driver. You and the other driver should exchange contact information, as well as your driver’s license number, license plate, and insurance information. Keep the conversation with the other driver brief, and avoid saying anything that can be interpreted as an apology, as this can be used against you by the other driver’s insurance company.
- Contact your insurance company. Notify your insurance company that you were involved in an accident.
- Call a lawyer. A lawyer will assist you with the claims process and protect your rights.
If you were injured in a car accident over Thanksgiving break and the other driver was at fault, you may have legal options. Whether the motorist was drunk, drowsy, or failed to use extra caution during inclement weather, you may be able to recover the following damages:
- All related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Speak to a lawyer to determine if you are eligible to pursue damages.
Effingham County Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Advocate for Clients Injured Over the Thanksgiving Holiday Break
Thanksgiving is a great time to gather with friends and family, but it is also a dangerous holiday for motorists. If you have been injured in a Thanksgiving collision, our Effingham County car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law can help. Call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.