More than 40 million Americans hit the road every year for the Thanksgiving holiday, with many driving at least 50 miles from home. If you are planning to be among these travelers, it is important to prepare.
You likely know that traveling during any major holiday will likely be stressful and frustrating, perhaps even dangerous. Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe.
Respect the weather forecast
It can be frustrating to see that bad weather could prevent you from traveling. However, many people decide to venture out regardless of the forecast. When roads are wet and even potentially slippery, accidents can result. Be realistic about your driving abilities, your knowledge of the entire route you are traveling and about what the weather might have in store. Your safety is more important than arriving on time for a Thanksgiving weekend.
Practice smart packing
Even if you are traveling only an hour away, your car may be too full. Make sure that items in your back are not obstructing your view and take care to ensure that any children, pets or heavy objects are secure.
Distractions are likely if you are traveling with children, so plan ahead by giving the little ones access to water and food, along with entertainment options. Also, refrain from answering your cellphone while you drive, even if it's your parents calling to see where you are. If you are driving with a teenage or adult passenger, you can ask that person to check the real-time traffic updates on your smartphone; you should not do so yourself while driving.
Plan for heavy traffic
Just as you should anticipate distractions, you should plan for traffic. Thanksgiving is notorious for heavy road traffic in practically any area of the country, and that traffic can lead to wrecks. Automatically add at least 30 minutes - preferably an hour - to your travel time. In addition, it could be an issue if you encounter braking issues or low windshield wiper fluid on the way, so schedule a car tune-up before the drive.