• Image Credit: Alamy
Thanksgiving is one of the most traveled weekends of the year, which also makes it one of the most accident-prone. With more cars on the road, each one filled to the brim with people, turtleneck sweaters and pumpkin pie, it's no wonder the holiday is known for accidents. Add in the dangers of inclement weather, alcohol and driver fatigue, and it's almost a perfect storm for mishaps.

That's the very reason why police forces around the country up the ante on the roadways during the holiday season. AAA says more than 46 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the four-day weekend; 90 percent of those will travel by car. State and local police forces work extra hard during this period to make the roads safer and they're going to write more tickets.

Continue on the next slide and see our guide for avoiding getting a ticket over the holiday.
Don't Drive Too Slow
  • Image Credit: Alamy

Don't Drive Too Slow

It goes without saying that if you speed, you'll eventually get a ticket. But, few people realize that failure to keep up with traffic can be cause for a moving violation. In fact, in some cities you can be cited for a ticket for driving too slow even if there are no other cars around.

This is especially the case during Thanksgiving: While there are many things that police look for to identify an impaired driver, one of the main things they'll be looking for is the extra slow driver. Maintain a speed that's comfortable for you and within five to ten MPH of the speed limit.
Don't Drive Fatigued
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Don't Drive Fatigued

Yes, we've all heard how eating your weight in turkey makes you tired. It's a bad idea to steer a motor vehicle when you're sleepy, so hand the wheel over to a family member or friend who's awake and sober.

If you are fatigued but still find the need to get behind the wheel, you'll have a hard time hiding your condition. Fatigued drivers have reaction times and driving characteristics of other impaired drivers. Police will likely pull you over and could do more than examine your alertness.

"In most instances if you are pulled over, your adrenaline will wake you up," said Michael Bornhop, a former police officer in Michigan who now runs his own safety consulting program for fleet organizations. "When I was a cop we wouldn't usually write a ticket specifically for a tired driver, but it could lead to a field sobriety examination."
Thanksgiving Isn't Just Thursday
  • Image Credit: Alamy

Thanksgiving Isn't Just Thursday

The entire Thanksgiving holiday weekend -- as far as police officers are concerned -- lasts well before and past Thursday. The official start to the holiday driving weekend is 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, ending Midnight on Monday morning.

This means that if you plan on putting the pedal to the metal on Wednesday night or Sunday afternoon, you're not in the clear. Consider the entire weekend one for cautious and rule-abiding driving.
Don't Blame Your Speeding On Dinner Time
  • Image Credit: AL

Don't Blame Your Speeding On Dinner Time

If you are caught speeding, especially in the period before Thanksgiving, don't expect to get any relief from police.

"It's Thanksgiving and it's the same day every year," said Bornhop. "When you start telling the officer that you're speeding because you're trying to make it to dinner on time, it won't help your case -- especially if you have a car full of kids. There's no excuse for speeding."

Bornhop recommends that if you are caught speeding, the best things you can do to make the officer's life easier are to: pull over in a safe and hopefully well-lit area, have your driver's license and documents ready when the officer comes to your window and admit fault for speeding.

"When I wrote tickets, I'd give a family a break if they were honest and admitted speeding. But if it comes down to your excuse versus my radar gun, I win every time."
Watch For Checkpoints
  • Image Credit: AL

Watch For Checkpoints

Beyond normal "speed zones" where police pay close attention to speeders, there are likely to be checkpoints in problem areas near your Thanksgiving holiday location.

Many states are stepping up their holiday enforcement efforts through checkpoints, with most of them taking place on Thursday night. Pennsylvania, for example, calls their program "Operation Safe Holiday" and will specifically employ checkpoints to stop drivers who are impaired.

"This weekend is the start of one of the busiest times of year on our highways," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler. Biehler's team will use sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols and regular traffic safety patrols to focus on impaired, aggressive and unbuckled motorists. PennDOT says that more than 250 drivers were cited for driving under the influence last year.


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