The festive holiday season presents an enhanced risk of injury or even fatalities as the result of a car accident. Heavy highway traffic, beginning over the Thanksgiving weekend, can lead to tragic events, especially when combined with intoxicated or drug impaired driving, particularly by minors. Students home from school may engage in more driving than they would ordinarily do while in classes.

Special efforts are being made by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) and the state’s Division of Public Safety (DPS) to raise public awareness of these dangers. At educational events for motorists, these two agencies cautioned drivers to use their seat belts, avoid operating motor vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and to avoid driving when sleepy.

Other safety tips include taking occasional breaks from driving, occasionally switching drivers, carefully planning longer trips in advance, and making sure that tires are in good condition. A sensible measure in the winter months is carrying an emergency kit in the car.

But drivers cannot control what others on the road are doing. Accidents can be caused by negligent or careless drivers who attempt to send or read text messages while behind the wheel. Though a new law is coming into effect next year that bans this type of distracted driving, motorists are still at risk of getting struck by a distracted driver.

Thanksgiving should be enjoyed with family and friends not spent in a hospital room. Last year in Pennsylvania, more than 1,000 DUI-related accidents occurred just before Thanksgiving, many of them with fatal consequences.

Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian, “PennDOT and DPS team up against impaired driving,” Diana Gonimah, Nov. 15, 2011