Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for America’s roads. INRIX estimates that over 40 million Americans will be out and driving this holiday weekend. And they’re not shy about the traffic projections, estimating that travels times will be at least 50% longer in some parts of the U.S. Shoppers could see even more traffic, with up to a 90% increase in travel time at some of the busiest malls.
To help keep you safe, sane, and out of the worst of holiday traffic, follow the Urgent.ly guidelines for making through to turkey time:
- Plan ahead. The New York Times analyzed the best and worst times to travel for 10 popular U.S. cities this Thanksgiving weekend. You can conduct your own analysis using tools like Google Maps or Waze, but generally the consensus seems to be: avoid Wednesday if you can, and, in general, avoid the afternoons. If you want to beat most of the traffic, leave very early in the morning (before 7:00 AM) or later at night (potentially later than even 9:00 PM, depending on where you live).
- Gear up your ride. It’s a great time for a tune up if you’re headed out for a long drive, but even if you aren’t going too far, it doesn’t hurt to make sure everything that should be working is. Check that your lights are operable along with your windshield wipers - this just might be the weekend they push the dust off to help keep snow out of your view. Be sure you’re stocked on the necessary fluids - like oil, power steering fluid, and windshield washing solution. You probably want to check that the heat and the radio are working too - it could be an uncomfortable drive as temperatures drop or if, knock on wood, you get stuck roadside without something to warm you up and tunes to keep you distracted. Check out our Autumn Car Care Tips for advice on how to prepare your vehicle.
- Equipt yourself and your travelling companions with activities and distractions for a long drive. Whether you’re planning a 12 hour trek to far-away relatives, or just afraid of gridlock with kids in the car, be prepared with something to do on the road. Music and podcasts are great for drivers, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the opportunity to delve into a great book. Simple games like I Spy or Mad Libs can also be great to keep kids entertained, and present an opportunity for family bonding. And of course, there’s always studying for school to keep everyone educated over the long weekend. Long road trips are a great reason to get creative and make studying fun and interactive for the kids and scholars in your company.
- Download some useful apps to help make the journey smoother - GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest gas. Waze uses data from other drivers to calculate the fastest route. Along The Way can help you find whatever you need along your route. And then, of course, there’s Urgent.ly, to get you back on the road.
- Update your Urgent.ly app to stay prepared. Make sure you’ve completed your registration by adding your vehicles and family members to your account. Maybe Thanksgiving dinner is at your house this year - you’ll be grateful to know you can still help those who experience a roadside emergency this holiday. Use FamilyView to help your loved ones make it through to the dinner table. You’ll be able to request, monitor, and pay for their roadside assistance from your smartphone, all while the turkey’s in the oven.
- Stay safe and focused behind the wheel. It can be hard to tune out the stress of the traffic, the chatter of the kids, and the constant buzzing of your parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews on your phone, wondering when you’ll arrive. But the most important part of your holiday road trip is to arrive safe. So put down the phone, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel. After Thanksgiving dinner, give yourself a chance to rest before you get back in the car. Traditional holiday foods often can induce sleepiness and make you groggy. And, of course, as always, if you indulge in any celebratory adult beverages this Thanksgiving holiday, do not climb behind the wheel intoxicated.
- Follow the rules of the road, too. With so many other cars on the road driving, there are bound to be a few accidents. Take every precaution to ensure that, if you find yourself in a crash or a breakdown, everyone will be safe and secure. Ensure each of your passengers wear their seatbelt, observe the legal speed limits, stop at stop signs, slow down in construction zones and where pedestrians are present, and generally be kind. Everyone on the road has somewhere they’re trying to get to, so there’s no need to be the person speeding and swerving in and out of traffic.
The travel congestion isn’t much fun for anyone, but it does make finally getting to your destination and settling in for a satisfying meal that much more rewarding. Safe travels this turkey day and happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at Urgent.ly!
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