COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Highway Patrol is reminding drivers of the dangers of distracted driving as people prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving typically involves longer trips, which troopers say increases the chances for fatigue and distraction behind the wheel.
Troopers from headquarters and other administrative offices will work during the Thanksgiving travel period to boost presence on the roadways, which helps keep roadways clear and traffic moving. The added presence also serves as a deterrent to aggressive drivers.
"People often ask our troopers the best ways to stay safe during long distance travel. The single best defense against a collision is to drive defensively yourself, wear your safety belt and stay alert," said Highway Patrol Col. Kenny Lancaster Jr. "Even if the other driver makes a mistake, you will have a greater chance of being able to react appropriately if your eyes and concentration are on the road."
Troopers warn that Thanksgiving travel can invite a host of problems on the roadways, including the increased congestion and travelers speeding to their destinations. Long trips also can make drivers more prone to distraction as they "zone out" after having traveled long distances without taking frequent breaks. Drivers may find themselves adjusting the radio, taking their eyes off the roadway to talk with passengers or becoming engrossed in cell phone conversations.
Here are some suggestions for keeping safe during your Thanksgiving road trip:
- Take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air
- Keep a safe following distance (at least three seconds behind the car in front of you). To measure the three-second rule, start counting when a car passes a fixed object; it should be three seconds before you pass that fixed object as well.
- Report aggressive drivers or drivers exhibiting signs of impairment by calling *HP
- Be aware of work zones and law enforcement assisting other motorists, and pay attention to the Move Over laws
- Refrain from travel right after a large meal, when you might be more prone to getting sleepy behind the wheel.
AAA Carolinas forecasts Thanksgiving travel to be up this year. The number of Americans traveling from Nov. 24-28 will increase 11.4 percent from 2009, with approximately 42.2 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 37.9 million Americans traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA's website.
There have been 692 fatalities so far this year compared to 802 at this time last year.