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Avoiding car accidents from holiday travel fatigue

Every step you take to reduce your odds of being in a car accident over the holidays is a step in the right direction.

Given that AAA estimates almost 51 million people will be on the roads during the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend, one of the big things to be concerned about is driver fatigue.

Why is fatigue such an issue? Because a lot of those drivers will have worked a full or partial day on Wednesday before taking off either Wednesday evening or early Thursday toward their destinations.

Many will still be stressed and tired from just packing the car. Others will be suffering from the sort of exhaustion that comes with having their sleep schedules disrupted (particularly those that have trouble sleeping before road trips or family events). Some folks may also have indulged a little in alcohol -- which can make people sleepy and hungover the next day.

How can you make your ride a safer? Follow these tips to avoid being among the fatigued (no matter what day of the holiday season it is):

  • Drink plenty of fluids. No, coffee doesn't count for all of it, because the caffeine can leave you dehydrated. Take a bottle or two of water with you as you go and sip along the way.
  • Make sure you bring snacks. Not only can you avoid stopping to eat, but you'll keep your blood sugar level and your mind sharp. A hungry driver is not the most alert driver.
  • Make use of rest stops. Even if nobody needs a bathroom break, just standing up and walking around for a few minutes can improve the circulation in your body, help freshen the recycled air in the car (which can also make you sleepier) and let you stretch.
  • Camp out. If you're at a friend or relative's house and you've eaten your fill and genuinely feel too tired to drive -- don't. Camp out on the floor if you don't want to go to a hotel. Even if you just sleep off a few hours worth of extra turkey, it'll make you more alert in the end.

If you do end up in a car accident with a fatigued holiday driver that's not so safety-conscious, find out more about your legal rights before you accept any compensation. Make sure that you fully understand your options before you sign away your rights.

Source: Eat Sleep Travel Repeat, "Beat Holiday Driving Fatigue," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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