As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, families nationwide are gearing up for their annual gatherings and feasts. Some will be joyful reunions, while others might be inescapable obligations. Whichever is on your calendar, let’s not overlook the importance of safe driving during what has become one of the busiest travel periods.
With increased traffic and — depending on where you live — potential weather challenges, it makes sense to prioritize road safety.
We’ll break this blog up into two parts. We’ll start with safety tips for having a happy (and accident-free) Thanksgiving. And we’ll close by giving you all the info you need to ensure you’re adequately protected regarding car insurance.
So, let’s hit the road.
8 Thanksgiving Driving Tips
1. Plan Ahead
Before you head out for your Thanksgiving trip, take the time to plan your travel route carefully. Use GPS navigation systems to stay updated on real-time traffic conditions and potential road closures. Look for alternative routes to avoid congested areas and potential construction zones. It’s also a good idea to check the upcoming forecast so you’re ready for any nasty weather that might come up.
If you’re staying overnight, make sure you pack what you need (but don’t overpack) and stock the car with snacks and things to keep the kids occupied if it’s a long trip.
2. Get Your Car a Check-Up
Before hitting the road, be sure your ride is in great shape. Get a solid once-over from a good mechanic to look at the brakes, engine, lights, and all the other important stuff. Have the tires inflated properly, and remember to top up all fluids, including oil, coolant, and windshield washer refills. And bring a spare set of car keys.
3. Rest Up
Being tired while driving on Thanksgiving is a big problem. So, catch some solid ZZZs before you hit the road, especially if it’s a long drive. Consider sharing driving responsibilities with family members and take turns so nobody gets too worn out.
If you get drowsy behind the wheel, pull over at a safe location to rest your eyes for a bit or get out of the car to stretch your legs.
4. Buckle Up
It may seem like common sense, but it’s worth repeating: always wear your seatbelt. Besides being the law, seatbelts are one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of injury in an accident. And make sure that all passengers are also buckled in before you start the engine — this includes those in the back seat and your pets, too.
5. Avoid Distractions
In this world where we’re all about tech, there’s so much stuff trying to get our attention. But when driving, you’ve got to give the road your full focus. Put away your phone – no calls or texts allowed while the engine is on. If you really must connect, find a safe spot to stop first — like at a coffee shop or rest area.
Keep the music volume at a reasonable level, and if traveling with children or pets, ensure they have something to keep them busy so you’re not getting distracted for no reason.
6. Don’t Tailgate
During heavy holiday traffic, it’s super important to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you. The 3-second rule is a helpful guideline – pick a stationary object on the side of the road, like a sign or a tree, and count to three after the car in front passes it. If you reach the spot before you’re done counting, you’re too close and need to ease up on the gas a little. This way, if the car in front slams the brakes, you’ve got enough time to react.
7. Stay Alert for Wildlife
If you’re driving through rural or wooded areas, watch out for animals crossing the road. Animals are more active during dusk and dawn — especially grazing deer — and you can total your car if you hit one. If you encounter wildlife on the road, slow down and avoid sudden movements that could cause them to dart into oncoming traffic.
8. Be Prepared for Emergencies
No matter how careful you are, accidents or breakdowns can still happen. So, it’s smart to be ready for any emergency with a first-aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, those reflective triangle things, and some essential tools like a manual car jack designed to raise your vehicle high enough to remove a flat tire, a lug wrench, a portable tire inflator, and a tire gauge to read the recommended tire pressure.
Additionally, carry important contact numbers, including your insurance provider’s claims hotline and local emergency services.
7 Thanksgiving Auto Insurance Tips
1. Locate Your Insurance Cards
Don’t forget to check that you have proof of insurance before you hit the road for Thanksgiving. These show that you’ve got the right kind of coverage, and you might need them if you get pulled over or are involved in an accident.
You can also print them out online or take photos of them to keep on your phone. It’s quick and easy and can save you a lot of trouble later.
2. Understand Your Liability Coverage
Liability insurance is a legal requirement in most states, and it is crucial for protecting you if you cause an accident. This coverage helps pay for the other party’s bodily injury and property damage expenses.
Make sure your liability limits are sufficient to cover potential costs, as inadequate coverage could lead to out-of-pocket expenses in case of a severe accident.
3. Consider Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Liability coverage protects you when you’re at fault, but you should also consider what could happen if another driver messes up and doesn’t have enough (or any) insurance. That’s where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage comes in.
It can cover your medical bills and property damage if the at-fault driver has inadequate or no insurance. Think of it as an added layer of protection for you and your passengers.
4. Look at Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle against theft, vandalism, and acts of nature – events that aren’t considered collisions. Collision coverage, on the other hand, covers damages to your car resulting from accidents involving other vehicles or objects, like trees and telephone poles.
These coverages are especially valuable during road trips when the risk of accidents and vehicle damage may be higher. When choosing how much to get, think about how much your car’s worth and how much risk you’re comfortable with.
5. Check for Roadside Assistance Coverage
Roadside assistance can be a lifesaver on marathon Thanksgiving Weekend trips — especially when there are a lot of travelers on the road. They’ll do things like tow your car, give your battery a kickstart, change a flat tire, and even bring you gas if you’re stranded.
Having this coverage can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that help is just a phone call away if you find yourself having a roadside emergency.
6. Rental Car Coverage
If you’ve ever rented a car, you’ll recall they ask you to accept or deny insurance coverage. If you plan to rent some wheels this Thanksgiving, check whether your car insurance policy includes rental car coverage. Some auto insurance policies automatically extend coverage to rental cars, while others may require you to purchase additional coverage from the rental car company.
Similarly, if you have an accident or your car is damaged, you might need to rent a car while yours is being fixed. Check to see if your regular car insurance might help pay for the additional costs of getting a rental car, how much they’d pay and for how long.
7. Bundle Insurance Policies
If you have multiple insurance needs or work with various insurance companies, consider bundling your car insurance with other policies like homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. Bundling them all with one provider can sometimes get you discounts, which is always appreciated.
And it can typically be done all online, so you can handle it just days before you take off for the long weekend.
Let’s Keep Thanksgiving Road Trips Safe and Accident-Free
Thanksgiving is about gratitude and togetherness, so let’s keep it that way. Follow our driving tips for a joyful and accident-free holiday. But remember, while accidents can happen anytime, the right policy can protect you and your wallet. So, review your coverage, add what you need, and enjoy the holiday worry-free.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Guided Solutions!