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As Millions of Texans Take to The Road This Thanksgiving, Here’s What to Know to Stay Safe

Cars in rush hour with traffic at dawn

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, people throughout the nation will soon be taking to the road to celebrate the holiday with friends and family.

In fact, according to AAA, an estimated 3.6 million Texans will be traveling more than 50 miles from their homes sometime within the next several days, making it the state’s sixth busiest Thanksgiving travel season since 2000.

With so many vehicles crowding the roads and highways, the potential for serious and fatal accidents is all too real. Here’s what you need to know to keep your family as safe and secure as possible during your holiday travels.

Expect Wednesday to Be the Busiest Day for Holiday Travel

According to AAA, you should expect Wednesday to be the busiest day for Thanksgiving travel.

Many driving to their holiday destinations will likely hit on the road during morning and evening rush hours, mixing with commuters heading to and from work. As a result, urban commutes in major cities like Houston could last up to three times longer than usual.

To avoid congestion, transportation data company INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. It’s also best to avoid travel between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Be Ready for Bad Weather Conditions

Inclement weather will only add to highway chaos.

While the first part of the week should be quiet, meteorologists have warned that moisture emerging from the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday will help spark showers and thunderstorms across eastern Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley. That will likely slow pre-Thanksgiving travel across parts of the Lone Star State, including Houston, Dallas, and Austin.

If you’re traveling outside of Texas, keep in mind that meteorologists are also calling for a major storm late in the week that could bring heavy rain, snow, and gusty winds to the eastern United States.

Bottom line? Check the weather forecast ahead of time, and if at all possible, avoid driving when predictions call for poor conditions.

Make Sure Your Vehicle is Ready for the Road

No matter what you’ll be driving – car, SUV, recreational vehicle, travel trailer, or pickup – it’s essential to ensure your vehicle is in top shape and ready for the road.

  • Check Your Tire Pressure: Improperly inflated tires are the leading cause of blowouts while driving. Use a gauge to check your tire pressure, and be sure to fill up with the proper amount of air before heading out.
  • Schedule an Oil Change: Oil should be changed once every 3,000 miles, so get it done if you know your vehicle will be hitting that milestone in the course of your Thanksgiving travels. And even if your vehicle’s not due for an oil change, take a few minutes to perform a dipstick check. If you notice any graininess or dark discoloration of your oil, schedule an oil change before you get on your way.
  • Have Your Fluid Levels Checked: It’s also a good idea to check your vehicle’s other fluid levels and top off where necessary, including coolant, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and brake fluid.
  • Get Your Tires Rotated: This will extend the life of your tires by preventing uneven wear while also ensuring they’re thoroughly inspected before you head out on a long trip.
  • Check Your Breaks: If you notice any grinding or squeaking coming from your brakes while driving, have them checked out – and replaced if necessary – ahead of your trip.
  • Make All Necessary Repairs and Replacements: Be sure to make any repairs and replacements your vehicle requires, no matter how minor. This includes broken tail lights, burnt-out headlights, and worn-down windshield wiper blades.

Always Follow Safe Driving Practices

While it’s always essential to adhere to all traffic laws and follow safe driving practices, both are especially crucial during holiday travel when roads and highways are crowded with far more vehicles than usual:

  • Drive at a Safe Speed: Speed is a major factor in Texas’s high rate of car accident deaths. Keep in mind that the posted speed limit may be too fast if you’re driving during bad weather, when a road is under repair, or in an area at night that isn’t well-lit.
  • Don’t Drive DistractedDistracted drivers killed 367 people in Texas in 2020. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting or doing anything else that takes your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed
  • Make Sure Everyone Wears a Seatbelt: In 2020 alone, 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes nationwide. Among the young adults (18 to 34) killed, more than half (60%) were completely unrestrained.
  • Make Sure Kids are in Appropriate Safety Seats: Nationwide, 38% of the kids who died due to motor vehicle accidents in 2019 were riding in passenger vehicles unrestrained. Proper use of a safety seat that’s appropriate for a child’s age and size reduces the risk of crash-related death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
  • Drive Sober: Texas — the fifth worst state in the nation for drunk driving — recorded at least 963 drunk driving deaths in 2020. That’s the equivalent of one drunk driving-related fatality every nine hours. Make sure to designate a sober driver if you do plan to drink during Thanksgiving festivities.

Call 1-888-984-1252 or Click Here for a Free Consultation with Our Undefeated Texas Car Accident Lawyers.

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If you or someone you love were injured or tragically killed by a negligent or reckless motorist, please call 1-888-984-1252 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

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