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We're thankful for your safety

We're thankful for your safety

For those who pay attention to travel, the next five days are the Super Bowl. Airlines and Amtrak have geared up for peak passenger loads. And families and friends are looking forward to holiday gatherings that bring them once again close to their loved ones.

For the men and women we work with here at DOT --in Washington, DC, and in offices and air traffic control facilities across the country-- Thanksgiving is another opportunity to think about your safety. Your safety in the skies, your safety on the rails.

And, in particular, your safety over the road. Because this year, AAA projects that of the 43.4 million Americans who are traveling more than 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving, nearly 39 million of them will head out for their Thanksgiving destinations by car.

Photo of happy family preparing for a road trip
Keep your family smiling throughout your trip by driving safely.

Through the efforts of our Federal Highway Administration, we can build highways to help protect your safety with technologies like Safety Edge pavement. And through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we have helped the vehicles Americans drive become more protective of occupant safety than ever.

But driver behavior is a shared responsibility, and unfortunately, 90 percent of all crashes have an element of human error.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, one driver error stands out --impaired driving. According to NHTSA, Thanksgiving is the worst holiday of the year for drunken driving. In 2012, 416 motorists died in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and 42 percent of them were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver.

That's why safety advocates offer special holiday campaigns against drunk driving, like MADD's "Tie One On For Safety."

And because many Black Friday sales begin this year on Thanksgiving night, more families could be sharing the road with impaired drivers. So this week, as part of our Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, law enforcement teams across the country will be out conducting stops on suspected drunk drivers.

With more people on our roads --many of them in a hurry to get where they're going-- speeding, running red lights, and aggressive driving pose greater threats than usual. Also, the more hours drivers spend behind the wheel, the more likely they are to be fatigued. Adding to the risk is the ongoing threat of distracted driving. Then there's the weather, which can cause slick surfaces and limited visibility.

All in all, Thanksgiving presents highway travelers with a potentially dangerous mix, and those of us who think about your safety on the road urge you to drive carefully, patiently, and soberly.

One way everyone on the road can take a step forward for safety is by buckling up. Although 86 percent of Americans do buckle up, 60 percent of the people killed in crashes during Thanksgiving 2012 were not wearing their seat belts. It's easy, and it can make the difference between life and death.

Photo of vehicles in traffic
When traffic heats up this holiday weekend, play it safe by keeping your cool.

Finally, we at DOT remind you that some drivers you'll see this holiday are not traveling for pleasure, but working. For example, America's commercial truck drivers often find themselves far from home on Thanksgiving Day with a load of freight that needs to get where it's going with no allowances for the holiday calendar. Truckers are carrying the food that replenishes grocery store shelves within a day of Thanksgiving. They're carrying the gifts Americans will be shopping for this weekend.

They're carrying the goods that keep our economy moving all year round. So let's do our best to Share The Road with them.

And if you are out buying holiday gifts this weekend, we urge you to mark Small Business Saturday by visiting a small business near you.

That's it from the Fast Lane until Friday. We wish you and your loved ones a terrific Thanksgiving and hope that wherever you're going, you get there and back safely.

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