Somehow, Thanksgiving is already next week. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you probably have a million and one things to do to get ready. However, more than likely you are not alone in this. Because of this, traffic tends to build up the days preceding Thanksgiving, reaching a climax the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. So here are some things to expect, that should help you be safer on the road for the week leading up to Thanksgiving. A lot of these trends are based off of Google Maps traffic trends for Thanksgiving.
Typically, Long Island experiences the most traffic during the surrounding hours of a typical work day (between 7-10am and 4-6pm). However, during the week of Thanksgiving, traffic trends show that heaviest morning traffic will shift later on, peaking at noon. To avoid heavy traffic in New York when you plan on going shopping, the best time to go is between 10-11 am, or after 6pm. Commutes to and from work may be slightly lighter, but relatively the same
If you are caught in heavy traffic, it can be frustrating. Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do about it. So it’s best to stay calm and not let it affect your mood. This will prevent you from doing something unsafe in an effort to get through the heavy traffic. Weaving from lane to lane and aggressive acceleration is dangerous. It is not worth getting into an accident to save a mere couple of seconds in traffic. Rather, you should do all you can to stay focused, and expect the unexpected in these heavily trafficked scenarios.
When people are anxious and impatient, there is a greater chance that they will do something unsafe. The holiday season is a more stressful time of the year for a lot of people, due to the things that are now added to their schedule to get done. This means you should pay special attention to stay focused while you are driving.
When you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, there is a major temptation to give in to distracted driving. Avoid the temptation to take advantage of the “opportunity” to eat, look at your phone or apply makeup. Often times, other cars make sudden stops, turns and lane changing in heavy traffic and if you are not paying attention, you could easily cause a collision. Additionally, while music can be calming and help pass the time, don’t get too into your music. This is another easy way to lose focus.
While adhering to basic driving fundamentals is always important, it is especially important in heavy traffic situations to always let other drivers be aware of what your vehicle is doing. Long Islanders sometimes have a habit of turning on their directional after they have begun changing lanes. This is not helpful for anyone to anticipate what you are doing, and New York State law require at least a 100 foot warning via turn signal before you turn, merge or change lanes. Further, it is even more important to check your blind spot before changing lanes. Although it isn’t safe, many cars like to tailgate in heavy traffic so changing lanes can be especially hazardous and only do so if there is a safe amount of space. Avoid cutting people off, it saves you little to no time.
November up until Christmas is the biggest shopping time of the year, but grocery stores and bakeries are at their absolute peak the days before Thanksgiving. If you are trying to get something fresh at the bakery, plan way ahead of time. Bakeries are busy all day the day before Thanksgiving, but the busiest time is at noon. If possible, going to a bakery right when they open is the best time to get something and avoid congestion. Additionally, grocery stores are busiest at around 3pm, and liquor stores are busiest shortly after.
Whenever there is high congestion in businesses, this also means parking lots will be very crowded. Additionally, Black Friday, and the weekend following will have stores and parking lots swamped with holiday shoppers. Although Black Friday weekend isn’t particularly heavy in traffic, the parking lots can be a big hazard. Parking lots always have the potential of causing a car accident. More than 50000 car accidents occur in a parking lot every year. These parking lots may be more busy then most, so the cars will be coming in and out.
It is very important that you pay lots of attention to your surroundings. Look out for cars backing up, and be careful at intersections. Anticipate the actions of other drivers and be prepared to use your horn if another car does not seem to see you, especially if they are backing up and getting too close. It is also important to drive slow as there are shoppers walking all over the place, weaving in and out of parked cars. You do not want to be liable for a pedestrian accident.
Additionally, do not use your phone while you are driving in a parking lot; you are still driving and it is still a distraction. This is important to mention because studies show that 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving in a parking lot.
As we approach the holiday season, we can expect a little more chaos on the road as we all try to get the things we need. Be alert, avoid distractions, and get to the bakery as early as you can. Ultimately, planning ahead and having patience are key to making your holiday shopping as smooth as possible.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.