Harsh Weather Conditions and Increase in Road Travel Can Be a Lethal Combination; Drive Carefully Over the Thanksgiving Break

New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org

NEW YORK, November 26, 2013 — Thanksgiving is among the top ten holidays where increased travel leads to a spike in auto accidents. That, combined with a forecast for inclement weather this year, could be a recipe for disaster, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
The Bureau of Transportation notes that Thanksgiving and the surrounding days are some of the most heavily traveled of the year. The AAA predicts that 38.9 million people will travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. And more traffic on the road means greater probability of fatal crashes, according to a recent study of traffic data by The University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety. There are more parties, more vehicles on the road at night, more tired drivers on less-familiar roads and more distracted drivers. In addition, the National Weather Service is predicting that a developing storm system will bring heavy rain to parts of the Deep South today and could impact holiday travel across the Eastern U.S. by midweek.
Driving safely and having a well-maintained vehicle is more important than ever at this time of year. “Failure to keep in proper lane or running off the road” and “driving too fast for conditions” are two of the most frequent driver behaviors that cause accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“This time of year, a lot of people are rushing around trying to fit more hours into the day,” said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president, public affairs and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “But that is no excuse for speeding on the road, texting or even touching up hair or make-up while driving,” she warned.
With all the holiday preparations, fatigue can also be an issue. If you are tired it is crucial that you ask someone else to drive or take a rest before getting behind the wheel.
“And, if alcohol is part of your holiday celebration, don’t drink and drive. Instead, agree on who will be the designated driver or plan to stay overnight with your family or friends,” pointed out Salvatore. “And, do not ride with anyone who has been using alcohol or drugs.”
In order to avoid potentially dangerous situations this holiday season, the I.I.I. offers the following driving safety tips:
  1. Give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination. Trips can take longer during the winter than other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads.
  2. Drive slowly—accelerating, stopping and turning all take longer on snow-covered roads.
  3. Leave more distance than usual between your vehicle and the one ahead of you, giving yourself at least 10 seconds to come to a complete stop. Cars and motorcycles usually need at least three seconds to halt completely even when traveling on dry pavement.
  4. Be careful when driving over bridges, as well as roadways rarely exposed to sunlight—they are often icy when other areas are not.
  5. Avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
  6. Keep your tires properly inflated and remember that good tread on your tires is essential to safe winter driving.
  7. Check your exhaust pipe to make sure it is clear. A blocked pipe could cause a leakage of carbon monoxide gas into your car when the engine is running.
  8. Monitor the weather conditions at your destination before beginning your trip. If conditions look as though they are going to be too hazardous, just stay home. Or if you are caught by a bad storm, get off the road.


The I.I.I.’s free mobile apps can help you create a disaster plan, learn about selecting the right insurance for your needs and budget, and create and maintain a home inventory. Learn more about our suite of apps here.
The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its You Tube Channel.

Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org



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