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How to Drive Safer During the Holidays

Sometimes car accidents happen, even when drivers take all the necessary precautions to avoid them. Other times, drivers engage in some reckless behavior behind the wheel, all in the name of getting where they need to go faster. Certain times of the year bring with them an increased risk of getting into an automobile accident on the roadways. The Thanksgiving holiday is among them, ranking fifth on a list of the seven holidays with the most vehicle fatalities.

How can drivers protect themselves and their passengers without dampening the holiday spirit? Following these safer driving practices while on the roadways can help increase the chances you make it to your destination on time and without incident.

Perform a vehicle maintenance check

New Mexico does not require car owners to have annual maintenance checks of their vehicles to obtain or renew their registration. Emissions testing is mandated every two years for residents in Bernalillo County around Albuquerque, except for those from 1982 or earlier, all-electric vehicles, and diesel cars. Since the state does not require it, many vehicle owners may be tempted to ignore conducting maintenance checks. It is worth having a qualified mechanic perform an inspection at least once annually and schedule repairs for any components that pose a health and safety risk. Another appropriate time to give your vehicle a once-over is right before going on any trip. If you plan to travel to see loved ones during the Thanksgiving holiday, consider taking the time to inspect your vehicle to ensure a safe journey.

Practice some patience behind the wheel

Cases of road rage are on the rise in New Mexico, according to police reports. In Albuquerque alone, there have been five road rage homicides so far in 2021. Driving on congested roadways can test even the most tolerant driver. More Americans are expected to travel this holiday season, with AAA forecasting 48.3 million vehicles on the roadways. Frustrated drivers tend to increase their speed, tailgate, and make unsafe lane changes or passes. If you find yourself getting so angry it is affecting your better judgment on the roadways, pull over and take a break.

Schedule breaks during long-distance travels

Speaking of taking breaks, anyone who plans to travel long-distance on the roadways this Thanksgiving should schedule frequent breaks to recharge. Eating a snack, having a meal, or just getting out to stretch your legs and get some fresh air can help drivers stay alert during their travels. Never try to drive for more than 8 hours each day without stopping for an overnight rest. For every two hours of driving, take a 15-minute break. Following these rules can help you and your passengers stay safe on the roadways.

Choose a designated driver

If you plan to attend a Thanksgiving feast where alcohol will be served, choose a designated driver for the return trip home. According to the most recent data from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, 2,237 alcohol-related crashes occurred on New Mexico’s roadways. Of those, 149 involved fatalities. Drunken drivers who cause traffic accidents that result in serious injury or death to others can face personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death lawsuits from victims. They also can face criminal charges that may result in fines, loss of their license, or jail time.

Avoid peak traffic times

Just like every city has a designated morning and evening rush hour during the workweek, there are peak times for holiday travel as well. When possible, avoid leaving during these busy times to lessen the chances of having an accident. During the Thanksgiving holiday, many people travel on the two days before the holiday, making them some of the busiest times to be on the roadways. If you must travel during peak times, give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination.

What to do if an accident happens

If you become the victim of someone else’s careless driving choices during the Thanksgiving holiday, you have a right to fair compensation. Schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can review your case and make recommendations on how best to proceed.

Safe holiday travels, everyone!