The National Safety Commission Alerts

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Traffic Safety 2009

For drivers, the most dangerous period of the year is approaching. Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled holiday period of the year with almost 90% of those traveling doing so by car and, if previous year statistics hold true, this Thanksgiving weekend will also be the deadliest holiday period of the year.

This year, the official 102 hour Thanksgiving holiday period will start at 6:00 pm on Wednesday the 25th and run through midnight on Sunday the 29th. During the same period in 2008, nationwide, 389 occupants of passenger vehicles were killed in car crashes; thousands more were injured. To lessen your chances of becoming one of the statistic this year, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Seat Belts

  • Of the fatalities during the 2008 Thanksgiving weekend;

    • More than two-thirds (67%) of the total fatalities did not have their seat belts fastened.

    • 40 percent of the fatalities in daytime crashes were not wearing seat belts.

    Most of the 2008 highway deaths and serious injuries could have been easily prevented by the simple act of wearing a seat belt. Many states have strengthened their seat belt laws over the past year and 31 states now have primary seat belt enforcement laws; meaning that the police can stop and cite you for not wearing a seat belt without having to witness any other traffic infractions. As in years past, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) is sponsoring a nationwide "Click-It-Or Ticket" campaign. State highway patrol and local police departments throughout the nation will be on the alert for vehicle occupants who aren’t wearing seat belts and they will be giving out tickets. Keep yourself safe and ticket free by wearing a seat belt.

  • Speed

  • Speeding is the major reason for traffic crashes. Higher speeds reduce the time you have to react to an emergency situation and increase the crash forces in a collision. Along with looking for seat belt violators, the police will also be looking out for speeders. If you are doing as little as 5 mph over the speed limit, you run the risk of earning a speeding ticket.

  • Wednesday

  • Most of the travelers who are going long distances will be leaving after work on Wednesday evening. They will find that the normal rush hour delays will extend throughout the evening and far out into rural areas where traffic is normally light.

    • Tired drivers who have worked all day and are now facing the frustration of being stuck in slow traffic for such a long distance may be tempted to take chances they might not otherwise take.

    • Sleepy drivers may nod off at the wheel and are just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

  • Sunday

  • Most drivers will wait until Sunday afternoon to return home where they will face many of the same driving conditions that they faced on Wednesday evening. Unlike Wednesday evening, they will face additional dangers due to:

    • Drivers who waited until the end of football games before hitting the road and didn't give themselves enough time.

    • Drivers who are drowsy after eating big meals of left-over turkey (Turkey contains Tryptophan, which is used as an ingredient in over-the-counter sleep aids.)

    • Drivers who have consumed alcohol while engaging in the above.

    Take these actions to remain safe on the road:

    • If you can arrange your work schedule, try to leave on Tuesday and return either on Saturday or Monday when traffic is lighter and safer.
    • Give yourself plenty of time.
    • Get enough rest and don't try to drive when you would normally be asleep.
    • Swap driving duties with a companion
    • To remain alert, stop every 2 hours or 100 miles.
    • Don't depend on caffeine or "energy drinks" to take the place of sleep. When they wear off, you will fall asleep.
    • Understand that traffic will be heavy and don't let your frustrations tempt you to take chances.
    • Check for weather conditions along your route and leave earlier if necessary.
    • Wear your seat belt!!! Seat belts are proven to save lives and prevent injuries.
    • Make sure children are secured in an approved child safety seat.
    • Children over 4 years of age are taken out of child seats too soon; their bodies are too small for seat belts to work effectively. Be sure any child under 4'9" in height is secured in a booster seat.
    • Don't give into the temptation to speed. It won't get you there that much faster and it can lead to a ticket or worse, a collision.
    • Use your cruise control to prevent speeding.
    • Understand that driving is a complex task and it takes all your concentration.
    • Eat light to prevent drowsiness.
    • If you need to make a phone call, pull off the road and keep your call short.
    • Don't answer your cell phone while driving. Let your cell phone take a message and pull off the road to answer your calls.
    • Don't text and drive!!! Taking your eyes off the road for just a second or two can have tragic consequences.
    • Don't consume alcohol!! Buzzed driving is the same as drunk driving.

    Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

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    PO Box 3359
    Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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