Stay Safe on the Roads This Thanksgiving
AAA Carolinas predicts that close to 1.5 million North Carolinians and 732,000 South Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving this holiday season – the most since 2005. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.
Of those traveling, 90% will do so by motor vehicle. With the surplus of drivers on the roads, we urge motorists to drive with caution and be prepared for the dangers on the road.
The most popular days to travel are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday at the end of the weekend. If possible, plan your travel a day later (Thanksgiving day is the best day to be on the roads) and come home a day earlier.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2017, there were 2,746 crashes in North Carolina resulting in 1,213 injuries and 23 fatalities, which is unfortunately up from the year before.
Law enforcement will be out in full force during the holiday. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol will take part in the Thanksgiving 1-40 Challenge – a joint operation among seven other states along the 1-40 corridor. Starting November 21, troopers will be placed every 20 miles along the major interstate.
AAA Carolinas offers simple holiday road survival tips for motorists:
- Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
- Avoid distractions behind the wheel. Keep your phone in a secured place until you arrive at your destination. Avoid behaviors such as eating, applying make-up and fiddling with the navigation system.
- Keep valuables in the trunk or locked area.
- Have your roadside assistance contact information on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
- Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times, in case of emergency.
- Obey traffic safety laws: wear your seatbelt and adhere to the speed limit.
- With an increase in traffic, expect delays and incidents on the side of the road. Obey the Move Over Law.
- Understand that everyone is in a hurry to get to their destination. Utilize turn signals, give drivers space and avoid road rage.
Thanksgiving eve has become a big night for binge drinking, as family and friends return home to reconnect for the holiday. Labeled “Blackout Wednesday,” many times the evening consists of over-drinking which can lead to drunk driving.
In order to stay safe on the roads late at night, AAA urges motorists to:
- Never drink and drive. Have a designated sober driver in place if you plan to drink.
- Utilize a ride sharing service such as Uber, Lyft, or a taxi.
- Stay off the roads the night before Thanksgiving if possible.
Deer Crossing: Vehicles More Likely to Hit Deer in Fall Season
With more deer on the road this season, AAA Carolinas is urging motorists to take precaution to avoid collisions.
The “rut” season – or mating season – of a deer typically runs from mid-October through mid-November. During this time, it is common for deer to lose their normally cautious manner as bucks chase does, even in the middle of the day.
Because of this deviation in behavior, October, November and December are the worst months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals.
In North Carolina there were 17,901 crashes reported in 2017 from collisions with a deer – with the months of Oct-Dec accounting for 47.5 percent of those crashes, according to the NCDOT. In South Carolina there were 2,460 crashes reported involving deer, according to the SCDPS.
AAA Carolinas encourages motorists to adhere to the following tips this deer season:
- Be especially attentive in the early morning and evening hours as many animals (especially deer) are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for most drivers.
- Use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic – your lights will often reflect off the animal’s eyes and reveal their location.
- Watch for water on the side of the road as it often attracts deer.
- If you spot a deer, slow down and watch for other deer to appear – as they rarely travel alone.
- As you slow down, blast your horn to frighten the animal away from the road.
- Brake firmly. Do not swerve or leave your lane as many crashes from deer are a result of hitting other cars
- Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have comprehensive coverage that includes animal collision.
In the event of a collision with a deer:
- Avoid making contact with the deer as a frightened or wounded animal can hurt you or further injure itself.
- Put your vehicle’s hazard lights on whether it is light or dark out.
- If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location, out of the road, as you wait for help to arrive.
- For insurance purposes, call your local law enforcement or highway patrol.
- To report an injured deer in North Carolina call the NCDNR’s Wildlife Enforcement Division at (800)-662-7137. To report an injured deer in South Carolina call the SCDNR office at (803) 734-3886 to locate a rehabilitator near you.
- When in North Carolina, vehicle-deer crashes should be reported to the NC Department of Transportation. When in South Carolina, vehicle-deer crashes should be reported to the SC Department of Transportation.
Disconnect and Drive Sponsors Speedway Christmas Show
The AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety has partnered with Charlotte Motor Speedway to put on its annual Speedway Christmas show, which officially opens on November 18.
Speedway Christmas is a holiday light show extravaganza in which the public can drive on the 3.75 mile strip of racetrack under three million lights. This year, Mother Goose, Rapunzel and the Three Little Pigs will be on display with the “Storybook in Lights” theme.
With the holiday driving season upon us, AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with the popular seasonal event to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The Disconnect and Drive message will be visble to an estimated 33,000 driving through the exhibit this year.
“Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Speedway Christmas light show is a time-honored tradition, recognized throughout the Carolinas for family fun, much like how AAA Carolinas is known for keeping families safe,” said Tiffany Wright, public relations manager for AAA Carolinas. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Speedway Christmas presented by Disconnect & Drive to encourage everyone to have a safe holiday season and to urge motorists to put down their cell phones while driving.”
With the partnership, on Tuesday nights, AAA Carolinas members receive $5 off a regularly priced ticket by showing their AAA membership card.
Building on the fan-friendly holiday atmosphere, this year’s Speedway Christmas presented by Disconnect & Drive – which runs until Dec. 31 but is closed on Christmas Day – will also feature an infield Christmas village with an all-new 50-foot Ferris wheel, Bethlehem village, children’s games and photos with Santa. Additionally, fans can sit in their cars and cozy up to Movie Nights on the giant Speedway TV every Thursday-Sunday.
The Speedway Christmas presented by Disconnect & Drive movie schedule includes:
- 17-18 “Home Alone”
- 22-25 “The Santa Clause”
- 29- Dec. 2 “The Polar Express”
- 6-9 “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
- 13-16 “The Star”
- 20 – 24 – “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, The Grinch (1966)”
- 26 – 30 – “Home Alone”
Tickets can be purchased here.
Speedway Christmas Hours:
• Speedway Christmas is open from 6:00PM – 10:00PM through December 31; CLOSED December 25
• Movies will begin at 6:30 p.m. each night, with a second showing immediately after. Tune to 105.1 FM to listen
Drive Alert Training Academy
This month, we are highlighting AAA Approved Drive Alert Training Academy, whose classes provide high quality teaching of proper driving techniques resulting in positive and safe driving habits for life for the Greenville, SC community.
The instructors at Drive Alert Training Academy include former law enforcement, military, fire services, emergency medical services, the department of education and South Carolina DMV examiners. Together, these experienced drivers teach a wide array of classes to the greater Greenville area.
What sets Drive Alert apart is its true-to-life driving simulators in the course curriculum that develop perceptual/cognitive skills, scanning techniques, mirror usage, decision make skills in crash avoidance and DUI simulations.
Drive Alert offers:
Basic Driver Training Course – includes 8 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of driving with a certified instructor. This prepares you for the SCDMV license road test and comes with a free pick-up and drop-off service within 20 miles of Drive Alert as well as a pizza lunch during the classroom training.
SC DMV Road Test – any student or qualified walk-in can take their test with one of Drive Alert’s safety officers. The test is generally completed in less than an hour and cuts out the wait times at the DMV.
Defensive Driving/Point Reduction Course – includes 8 hours of classroom lectures, short films and simulation training. This AAA Approved course will reduce four points from SC Drivers License and/or satisfy a judge’s request for a “driver improvement” class to avoid points from a traffic citation.
Additional Behind-The-Wheel Driving Session – One on one time with a SC licensed instructor to make novice drivers more comfortable with the road.
Senior/Mature Driving – uses AAA’s robust curriculum combined with simulation training that addresses natural age-based changes and the effects of medications behind the wheel. Focuses on the five leading causes of senior crashes to refine senior’s driving skills.
Fleet Services – utilizes an AAA approved traffic safety curriculum combined with customizable simulation training scenarios to fit your needs to reduce insurance rates, claims and litigation by preventing crashes.
To enroll in a class or view their upcoming schedule, click here.
We’re All At Risk When We Text Behind The Wheel
Six years ago, Tasha Hairston-Springs sent a text that almost ended her life and changed the lives of her children forever. She has spent every day since then advocating for all drivers – no matter how old and experienced – to put their phones away behind the wheel.
“I’ve become an advocate against distracted driving,” Tasha says. “The culture around how we use our cellphones has to change or more and more people will get injured or even worse they will die or kill someone. This change won’t happen overnight, as studies are showing that cellphone use has become an addiction.”
On a routine drive to the Outlet Mall in Mebane, NC, Tasha texted back and forth with her daughter about a cell-phone bill. Though she knew better than to text and drive, she deemed the act harmless because she was driving alone and thus not setting a bad example for her children.
Suddenly, she grazed an overpass on the left median and saw sparks begin to fly. She hit another vehicle which threw her forward and partially out her window. She became unconscious from bumping her head and was then dragged by her SUV down the road. Tasha awoke in the ICU to the astounding sound of her heartbeat that told her she was still alive.
She would later learn that emergency personnel first took her to Alamance Regional and put her on life support to assist with her ability to breathe while they stitched her hanging lip back to her mouth. Once her lip was intact, Tasha was transferred via helicopter to another hospital because the trauma to her body was too much for the first hospital to handle. She had lost 8% of her body’s skin.
Today, Tasha lacks skin, muscle and tissue on parts of her body, her fingerprints and her ear because of a text message. She has had reconstructive surgery for five years to continue to fix her damage and chronic pain. What’s worse is that once she was stable, Tasha learned that she hit a vehicle carrying two people on the road. Thankfully, they were only treated for minor injuries. Tasha now suffers from PTSD that she developed in the hospital due to her severe trauma coupled with the weight of what she caused.
It is thinking about how bad the consequences could have been that motivates Tasha to share her story and plead with all motorists to put down their phones.
“I have to live my life everyday knowing that I hurt people,” she said. “Because of my selfish decision people got hurt. Don’t be like me, put your phones down and just drive. Texting is risky business. The life you save will be your own.”
The message she wants to promote above all: Anyone can fall victim to distracted driving.
“I was just like you. I didn’t believe it would happen to me. I thought it only happened to other people because I was a pro. I had done it for years. A little swerve here, a little swerve there. Never thought about the swerve that was waiting to kill me.”
Join the discussion @textingisriskybusiness on Facebook and Instagram. You can also find Tasha on LinkedIn @ Latasha Hairston Springs. Tasha is currently writing a book titled “Texting is Risky Business” that she hopes to have published in late March. She is available to speak at events and her contact info can be found on her social sites. She is also developing a mindfulness program – Mindfully Aware Drivers (M.A.D) A message from Tasha: “I’m counting my blessings everyday. Thank you for your time. Be safe, not selfish. Drive smart, have a heart.”