CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Each year, more than 5,000 people are killed and 140,000 injured in car/truck crashes on the nation’s highway. With a predicted high volume in traffic for Thanksgiving this week, it is important to know the safety aspect of traveling.
Some of the most common mistakes people make while traveling in general include:
- Failure to keep in their lane or running off the road.
- Failure to yield the right of way.
- Driving too fast for conditions or above the speed limit.
- Failure to obey signs and signals.
Safety Tips for Motorists
1. Be aware that trucks create wind gusts. Keep both hands on the wheel when you pass a truck or when a truck passes you.
2. Leave plenty of room between you and a truck when coming to a stop on a hill. Trucks may roll back as the driver takes his or her foot off the brake.
3. Don’t speed up when a truck is passing you. Instead, stay to the right and slow down slightly. Let the truck pass you. This will give the truck driver plenty of room to pass safely and get you out of the truck’s blind spot faster.
4. If a truck driver is signaling to change lanes, give him or her space. An average truck changing lanes at highway speeds needs an eight-second gap (700 feet) — that’s the length of 2 1/2 football fields.
Safety Tips for Truck Drivers
1. Double-check your mirrors before turning right. Motorists may not know that you need to swing wide to the left to make a right turn and they may not realize that you are turning.
2. Signal early and often when maneuvering through and around intersections. In heavy traffic, motorists who drive alongside the truck may not see your turn signal. Signaling early gives motorists the information they need to decide whether or not to pull alongside you.
3. Don’t tailgate. It makes motorists uneasy to have 80,000 pounds of truck on their rear bumper.
4. Leave extra space between your truck and the cars around you whenever possible. Many motorists don’t know how long it takes a truck to stop or how much room you need to pass safely.
5. Use proper parking areas when pulling off the road. Trucks are four times more likely to be rear-ended than cars. It is especially important to use designated parking areas when possible. If and when you can’t do this, pull completely off the road and set out flares, safety triangles or other devices to enhance your visibility
Traveling the West Virginia Turnpike
The West Virginia Parkways Authority says that Sunday, December 1, is the busiest day of the year to travel. You can expect heavy traffic from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the holiday weekend.
Safety Police officers are assigned to the West Virginia Turnpike 24-hours a day/7 days a week. These Troopers respond to all traffic accidents and each are trained in CPR, First Aid and carry an Automated External Defibrillation Unit onboard their cruisers.
It costs $4 for the tolls, and they do not accept credit. The only forms of payment for traveling are cash and E-Z Pass.
Traveling in Ohio
Nearly 2.3 million Ohioans plan to travel more than 50 miles from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA. This is the highest number since 2005.
AAA predicts 89% of Ohio travelers will drive to their destinations, which means you can expect crowded roadways. According to Ohio Department of Transportation traffic count data, the peak travel time last Thanksgiving was between 3 and 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Overall, ODOT expects a 63% increase in traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making it the busiest holiday travel period of the year on Ohio’s roads.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, seven people were killed in seven deadly crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year. Two of those fatalities were the result of an impaired driver and three were unbuckled.
Traveling in Kentucky
You can follow the Lexington real-time traffic ticker to get ahead of lane and road closures during the holiday season.
Safety Assistance for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE) Patrol sponsored by State Farm is a free roadside assistance program to assist stranded motorists and improve highway safety when the unexpected occurs on major Kentucky interstates, parkways, and prominent roadways. The SAFE Patrol operators do more than change tires, they also provide traffic control, emergency first aid, and can perform minor auto repairs. Since 2007, Safe Patrol operators have provided nearly 350,000 assists.