(Metro) The week of Thanksgiving is a busy time of the year to travel that's marked by a large number of people traveling to see loved ones.
In 2017, AAA projected 50.9 million Americans would journey 50 miles or more from home on Thanksgiving. While many people look forward to seeing their loved ones, the sheer volume of cars on the road during Thanksgiving week makes it a dangerous time to travel.
A recent study examining the previous five years of data on traffic crashes in Alberta, Canada, found long weekends have 18 percent more deadly accidents than non-holiday weekends. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Thanksgiving is the most dangerous holiday for driving. The most recent data available from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System indicates there were 764 crashes involving a fatality during Thanksgiving 2012. In comparison, there were 654 crashes involving a fatality during Christmas that year.
This Thanksgiving, drivers should make it a point to follow these tips to ensure they get to their destinations safely and soundly.
• Check the forecast before you go. Weather can be unpredictable around Thanksgiving. Conditions may be sunny one day and then cold and icy the next. Stay up-to-date on the latest weather forecasts and road conditions as you prepare for your trip, making sensible decisions about traveling if there is inclement weather.
• Get your vehicle inspected. Have your vehicle inspected in the days before you hit the road. A mechanic's diagnostic checkup and routine servicing, such as topping off fluids and changing windshield wipers, can make driving safer.
• Keep your fuel tank more than half-full. FEMA suggests keeping the tank full when temperatures are extremely cold. This is because condensation can build up in near-empty gas tanks, potentially freezing fuel lines and leaving you stranded.
• Opt for airline updates. Flights can be delayed or canceled when weather is poor. Many airlines will now text travelers who are subscribed to updates or frequent-flyer programs and apps. That's a convenient and free bonus.
• Plan for stops. Drowsy driving and distracted driving are extreme dangers across North America. Take breaks to avoid drowsiness and only use a mobile device when safely pulled over at a rest stop.
• Leave plenty of time. There are bound to be many travelers come Thanksgiving week. Build extra time into your trip so you don't have to speed or rush to make it on time.
Thanksgiving is a big travel holiday. Make it to family dinner safe and full of smiles by following various safety trips during your travels.