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17 driving tips to prevent car accidents on Thanksgiving weekend

Michigan car accident injury attorneys give safety advice for “biggest bar night of the year” and Thanksgiving road trips

Time for my annual Thanksgiving safety blog. Thanksgiving is known for stuffing ourselves to the point of no return, and many people don’t realize how dangerous the “biggest bar night of the year” can be. Yes folks, the night before Thanksgiving has been deemed the “biggest bar night of the year” in Michigan and other states based upon all the auto accidents, drunk driving crashes and police stops.

This means lots of alcohol.

College kids now refer to the night before Thanksgiving bar festivities as “blackout Wednesday,” because a lot of them return home from school for the weekend, and kick it off by “blacking out” from partying and drinking so much. Well, I guess the activities haven’t changed too much, but we didn’t have a name for it when I was coming home from college a couple decades ago.

And that is really the point – younger drivers tend to think of themselves as immortal. In their minds, drunk driving and car accidents happen to other people, not to them.

So I want you (college students especially) to drink responsibly. The Michigan car accident attorneys from my law firm have had to help families through the life-altering consequences from reckless drinking and driving accidents over too many Thanksgiving weekend holidays. These are crashes that could always have been prevented, because almost all are caused by drinking and driving. That makes them even more tragic to me.

According to the latest stats available from AAA Michigan, more than one million Michigan residents will travel throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, mostly by car. During the 2008 Thanksgiving holiday period, 13 people died in nine fatal crashes on Michigan roads, compared with 11 deaths in 2007. Alcohol was involved in 10 of the fatalities.

Advice from our Michigan personal injury attorneys: Safe driving on “blackout Wednesday”

1. Have a reliable designated driver. Drunk driving is illegal. There are severe consequences for driving drunk, and run the risk of injuring or killing others. Designate a person who will stay sober, or arrange to have a friend or family member pick you up. You can also call a taxi.

2. Be responsible. If you’re 21, the night before Thanksgiving can be great for catching up with friends and family. But you don’t want to end up drunk. Be responsible about how much alcohol you consume. Try to eat, drink water and switch between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Know your limits and do not cross the line. Again, never drive if you have been drinking.

3. Beware of drunk drivers on the road. Midnight to 3 a.m. has the highest rate of fatal car accidents caused by drunk driving, according to the Michigan State Police. Stay off the roads during these peak crash hours. And if you must be on the road (as a sober driver or passenger), always stay aware of your surroundings. Take into account the vehicles around you, the weather and your safety belt.

4. Don’t speed or drive distracted. Speeding is one major reason for car accidents. Higher speeds reduce the time you have to react to an emergency situation and increase the forces in a collision. Distracted driving and texting while driving can increase your likelihood of getting into a car accident by 23 percent.

If you’re taking a Thanksgiving weekend trip: 14 safety tips

1. Again, don’t drink and drive!

2. Always wear your seat belt.

3. If you can swing it, try to leave on Tuesday and return either on Saturday or Monday when traffic is lighter and safer.

4. Be prepared for heavy traffic and have patience.

5. Give yourself plenty of time on the road, and be prepared for changing weather conditions.

6. Know your way before you leave, so you can avoid getting distracted by maps or GPS navigation systems.

7. Don’t speed.

8. Don’t drive distracted or text and drive.

9. Get enough rest and don’t drive when you would normally be asleep.

10. Don’t try to “power through it” and depend on caffeine or energy drinks.

11. To remain alert, take a break and stop every two hours or 100 miles.

12. Make sure children are secured in an approved child safety seat.

13. If you need to make a phone call, pull off the road and keep your call short.

I wish all of my readers and friends a safe Thanksgiving weekend and a happy, peaceful holiday.

Steve Gursten is one of the nation’s top accident attorneys. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve has received the highest verdict in the state for a car accident or truck accident victim in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Related information to protect yourselves:

How to avoid hitting a deer

Michigan auto accident resource center

10 things to know if you’ve been injured in a Michigan car accident

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan car accident attorneys.

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