With tens of millions of Americans expected to spend some portion of the Thanksgiving holiday on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds motorists to plan ahead to make sure everyone makes it to the table safely.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi R. King released a video message urging holiday travelers to drive at a safe speed, avoid texting and driving, wear seat belts properly, ensure children are buckled in the right seats for their ages and sizes, and to drive sober.
According to NHTSA, the Thanksgiving holiday, traditionally the start of the busy holiday travel season, sees an increase in crashes and fatalities. In 2017, there were 528 people killed in crashes across the country during the holiday weekend (6 p.m. November 22nd – 5:59 a.m. November 27th); about half of the passenger vehicle occupants who died weren’t wearing seat belts.
To help everyone stay safe on U.S. roads this holiday, NHTSA is reminding the public to take the following precautions:
- Travel at a safe speed. Speed affects your safety even when you are driving at the speed limit but too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, when a road is under repair, or in an area at night that isn’t well lit. For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.
- Don’t drive distracted. Pay attention to the road. Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Teens are the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.
- Wear a seat belt and wear it properly. The simple act of buckling your seat belt increases your chance of surviving a crash. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved 14,955 lives. But if everyone had worn seat belts on every trip that year, 2,549 more lives could have been saved.
- Make sure children are buckled in the right seats for their ages and sizes. Since 1975, 11,606 children ages 4 and under have been saved by child restraints. There were 325 children saved in 2017 alone.
- Drive Sober. Designate a sober driver if you plan to drink. In 2017, there were 10,874 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers legally drunk. These deaths are 100-percent preventable.