Stay safe while on the road this week

America is about to hit the road to celebrate the coming holiday.

According to estimates released by AAA, 45.5 million people will drive our highways between Wednesday and Sunday to reach their desired destinations for Thanksgiving. It is traditionally one of the busiest holiday travel periods of the year.

Joining those over-the-road travelers will be 4 million people in flight and more than 1 million who will travel by train. If AAA predictions hold true, it could be the most traveled Thanksgiving weekend in more than a decade.

Travelers’ dreams of a holiday feast with family and friends will only come true, though, if they manage to reach their destinations safely.

The National Safety Council estimates that more than 400 people could be killed on U.S. highways this holiday weekend. Beyond that figure, AAA estimates it will rescue as many as 330,000 people from situations that leave them stranded. But taking a few simple precautions and following safe driving practices could help you avoid being among those numbers.

The NCS reminds drivers and passengers to wear a safety belt during every trip. Statistics show that people are much more likely to survive any crash if they are buckled up.

The NCS also recommends the following: Make sure children are properly restrained. Designate an alcohol- and drug-free. Get plenty of rest before driving and take frequent breaks on long trips. Avoid using cellphones, even hands-free devices, while driving. Learn about all the safety systems of your vehicle before you get behind the wheel; that way you will not become distracted while searching for the switch to turn the headlights on, etc.

AAA adds that drivers should inspect their vehicle before departing. It also recommends mapping your route in advance, keeping valuables out of sight in the trunk and having emergency roadside assistance information readily available. If you are traveling with children, accompany them on bathroom breaks and remind them not to talk to strangers.

Motorists also should obey speed limits, watch for wildlife and give big trucks plenty of room to maneuver. Then, when the holiday weekend is over, we can all be thankful for safe drivers.

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