Near-record numbers of people will be hitting the road this Thanksgiving, according to AAA's annual forecast.
AAA estimates that over 50 million people will be driving to their destinations over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. This could be the highest number of Thanksgiving drivers weekend drivers since 2005.
Unusually busy roads, forecasted stormy weather across much of Washington, and increased holiday alcohol consumption can make travel particularly dangerous this year. Here are some tips for getting to your holiday destination safely.
The Most Dangerous Driving Holidays
Any holiday that often includes increased alcohol consumption usually means more car accidents. Particularly dangerous days include New Year's Eve, 4th of July, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. And, yes, Thanksgiving is also one of the more dangerous driving days.
What many drivers might not expect is that the days before and after Thanksgiving are also unusually dangerous driving days.
Car accidents tend to spike on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving due to increased alcohol consumption. "Black Friday" (the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving) is also one of the more dangerous driving days of the year.
Tips for Safe Holiday Travels around Washington State
Don't Drive Under the Influence
This sounds obvious, but the number of people arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) every year during the holidays shows that not everyone follows this advice.
You may be staying nearby or feel like you need to make a quick run to the store for an ingredient you forgot. But if you've been drinking or using other drugs (including legal ones like marijuana), even a short drive can be dangerous.
Know What to Do If You Are Stopped by the Police
If the police stop you when you are driving, remain calm. Don't get angry, make sudden movements or run away from your vehicle. From the moment you are stopped, remember that anything you say can potentially be used against you. You can politely decline to answer questions. And if you are placed under arrest, you can refuse to answer any questions until an attorney is present.
Avoid Peak Traffic Times, If Possible
Many people think that the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day. However, people are increasingly traveling a day earlier in an attempt to beat the holiday travel rush. For example, AAA predicts that the worst travel time in Seattle will actually be Tuesday, November 22 between 3:45-5:30 p.m.
Give Yourself Extra Time to Travel Over Thanksgiving Weekend
The roads will be crowded with other holiday travels, and stormy weather may make travel even slower and more difficult. So plan ahead to give yourself extra time in case there are delays.
If you're running behind, don't be tempted to speed to make up lost time. Your family almost certainly wants you to arrive in one piece more than they want you to arrive exactly on time.
We wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving and hope you enjoy the time with your family, friends and other loved ones.