The American Trucking Associations and professional truck drivers from ATA’s Share the Road highway safety program offer timely tips for safe driving during the busy Thanksgiving weekend.
“Truck drivers are delivering turkeys, cranberries and all the helpings, fixin’s, and stuffings that make Thanksgiving an enjoyable holiday, but we want to remind the motoring public how important safe driving is during this busy travel weekend,” said Share the Road professional truck driver Scott Harrison, of K-Limited Carrier. “We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving--family, food, security and opportunity--and if we can all pay attention to some basic safe driving skills this week, it will be a great start to the holiday season.”
AAA estimates more than 54 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles this Thanksgiving weekend, which is the highest projection since 2005. That forecast includes more than 48 million Americans who plan to travel via automobile on our nation’s roads and highways, sharing the road with professional truck drivers who are delivering holiday goods as well as medicine, building materials and other critical items.
Professional truck drivers recommend patience and executing a travel plan throughout the week. The American Transportation Research Institute provides a very helpful resource for members of the motoring public looking to develop a travel agenda for Thanksgiving--the ATRI 2018 Top 100 Truck Bottleneck List. The list charts average speed by time of day for all 100 bottlenecks and is particularly useful for motorists traveling through unfamiliar regions.
Share the Road’s instructional video spreads truck safety messages to the millions of motorists who will be driving alongside large trucks this week. The video, featuring professional truck drivers, gives an eight-minute recap of critical safe-driving habits and has already been viewed by hundreds of thousands of motorists, including truck drivers and the general motoring public.
Thanksgiving offers several other driving challenges beyond traffic congestion. Many regions have experienced the first snowfall of the year and winter driving presents unique problems for motorists, including high wind and blowing snow. At times, the effects of winter weather can produce low visibility for drivers, further necessitating the need for safe following distances, reduced speeds and vehicle maintenance. Similarly, freezing temperatures can have a profound impact on vehicles and the roadways. A thorough pre-trip inspection and understanding of driving conditions can play a significant role in driving success this holiday season.
These driving tips also apply to Californians who are dealing with low visibility caused by recent fires.
“As someone who’s spent his truck driving career in Maine, I can assure all drivers that these safe driving tips can be life-saving,” said Share the Road professional truck driver Jon Brockway, of Walmart Transportation. “It is essential that your vehicle is prepared for long trips and that you pack a few extra blankets, water bottles and dry food. Be sure to check your wiper fluids, antifreeze, and try to give other drivers, including trucks, plenty of space as you’re navigating throughout the week.”
Share the Road professional drivers recommend these safety tips to drivers and would like to remind motorists about some key elements of safe driving, including how to operate small passenger vehicles near large tractor-trailers:
- Buckle Up: A seat belt will not prevent a collision, but it will save a life.
- Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to ensure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Do not allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
- Slow Down: Chances of a crash nearly triples when driving faster than surrounding traffic.
- Do not drive impaired: Driving is a great responsibility and your fellow travelers are relying on safe, attentive drivers to respectfully share the road and make good decisions. DUI arrests and instances of drunk driving are at their highest from Thanksgiving Weekend to New Year’s Day.
- Be aware of truck blind spots: Trucks deliver your favorite Thanksgiving traditions – turkeys, pumpkin pies, mashed potatoes, you get the idea – so make it easy on truckers by staying out of blind spots. Pass on the left where the truck’s blind spot is much smaller.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents and one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving. Do not check your fantasy football score, text your buddy about plans, or look up Black Friday shopping deals while driving.
- Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them. Fully loaded tractor-trailers can take the length of a football field plus both end zones to make a complete stop (even the ’76 Pittsburgh defense couldn’t stop a truck).
- Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Before you head out to your aunts, uncles and cousins, check your wipers and fluids and have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
- Prepare yourself for long distance travel: The vehicle needs maintenance and the driver needs plenty of rest and hydration to function at his or her best. If the turkey is making you feel drowsy, pull over and wait until you are more alert.
- Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early to reduce anxiety about arriving late. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
- Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead.