Thanksgiving Travel in Maine: Stay Safe in Wintery Weather

Thanksgiving is a busy time for holiday travelers. United States Department of Transportation statistics show that long-distance trips (50 miles or more) increase by 54% during Thanksgiving.  AAA estimates that  43.5 million Americans will hit the road for the holiday this year, and 90% of them will make their treks in automobiles (as opposed to air, train or bus travel).

Contrary to popular belief, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is not the heaviest long-distance travel day of the year. Thanksgiving Day is the heavier long-distance travel day, and therefore one of the most dangerous days to traverse Maine’s roads and highways.

Holiday Travel Statistics

Unfortunately, this year’s Thanksgiving travelers will face heavy rain, high winds, ice and snow as they make their way across the state.  As any holiday traveler knows, slick road conditions combined with heavy traffic volume mean long, slow trips.  Most drivers who have traveled Maine’s winter roads know all too well the white-knuckled driving that accompanies a fierce, unpredictable Maine winter storm.

The large storms hitting the country have already been blamed for at least 11 fatal car accidents across parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas,  and this powerful storm is headed for the East Coast.

Congested highways,  backed up with holiday traffic and winter storms means Maine drivers must prep themselves and their vehicles to ensure the safety of their loved ones.

Sadly, the highways aren’t just full of happy travelers heading to grandmas.  Some of the drivers you’ll share the road with are Impatient, drowsy or even inebriated.

These dangerous drivers are a major cause of fatal traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday.  According to the NHTSA, 40% of fatal Thanksgiving automobile accidents involved drunken driving in recent years.  A 2009 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute concluded that Thanksgiving is one of the four most dangerous US travel days (including New Year’s Day, Independence Day and Veteran’s Day.)

Stay Safe this Thanksgiving with Tips from the American Red Cross

The personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing want your Thanksgiving trip to be as pleasant and safe as possible.  Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate in our beautiful state of Maine, the following tips from the American Red Cross will help ensure your safety on one of the heaviest travel days of the year.

  • Check your vehicle carefully before you leave –  fluid levels,  tire air pressure and windshield wipers.
  • Wear your seatbelt!
  • Leave extra time for travel and observe the speed limits.
  • Be a calm and courteous driver.
  • Don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who will remain sober.
  • Use caution in work zones and don’t tailgate.
  • Travel on a full tank of gas, and stop frequently for rest breaks.
  • Drive with your headlights on for increased visibility.  In darkness,  don’t “overdrive” your headlights.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as cell phones, GPS systems, and even passengers!
  •  Don’t text and drive.
  • Do not use your cruise control in bad weather.
  • Stock your vehicle with winter weather supplies, such as an ice scraper, blankets, sand or kitty litter, and a shovel (for extra traction if you’re stuck).
  • Review winter driving safety tips.  (Driving Tips, Safety Information and Accident Prevention
  • If you develop car trouble, pull off the road as quickly as possible.

Going home for the holidays is a cherished tradition.  Even if the Maine weather challenges this year’s travelers,  it is possible to travel more safely in an effort to avoid traffic fatalities. Follow the above safe driving tips.  Know that your loved ones are looking forward to seeing you this Thanksgiving, and don’t rush or drive distracted or impaired.  Buckle your seat belts.

Don’t become another traffic fatality – slow down, be careful and follow the law.  Your loved ones, along with your fellow Maine travelers, will thank you!

If you or a loved one is involved in a traffic accident,  please contact the caring, experienced Maine personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing. Our team will work hard to see justice done and to earn you the compensation you deserve.