Savor the Thanksgiving dinner – and the drive

CHP officer Traci Gallian
CHP officer Traci Gallian sflores@fresnobee.com

Will you be traveling for Thanksgiving? As we set out to visit our family and friends, so do 40 million Americans. The majority of travelers will be on the road. Let’s review how to be prepared and what to expect on the roadways this holiday.

▪ Before you begin, check your vehicle. Proper maintenance of your vehicle and a full tank of gas can go a long way to ensure you do not become stranded. Check your windshield wipers and fluids to make sure they are working.

▪ If you find yourself on the side of the road, note your location and call 911 for help.

▪ Be kind to one another! We are all trying to do the same thing – get to our families and enjoy the holiday.

▪ Know your route and the off-ramp you will be exiting. Sometimes drivers make unexpected lane changes or last-minute turning movements to exit the freeway, which can cause a traffic collision. Be aware of this possibility and drive defensively.

▪ Leave early. Who wants to be late to the turkey and all the yummy fixings? If you leave a reasonable amount of time, you won’t be anxious about arriving late.

▪ Slow down. With the extra congestion due to holiday traffic, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Remember, there are many CHP officers working during this time, and they are not en route to a fabulous turkey dinner.

Officers will be looking for speeding vehicles, seat belt violations and drivers under the influence. To avoid being pulled over, take your time, wear your seat belt and be courteous to others.

▪ Getting together with family sometimes means partaking in some libations. As always, don’t drink and drive.

▪ Buckle up! We all know seat belts save lives. It literally takes two seconds to buckle up. Make sure the little ones are buckled in properly before you hit the road. Don’t overload the vehicle.

▪ Secure heavy items such as ice chests and luggage in the proper area of the vehicle. During a collision, loose items can harm occupants when they fly around the vehicle.

Now, for the star of the show, the highly anticipated turkey dinner! We wait all day to sink our teeth into this tasty bird; why not sit back, relax and enjoy the full belly? Make sure you rest after the big meal. I know my family calls out what chair or couch we will be napping in before the turkey tryptophan is served. This way we are well-rested for our drive home.

Speaking of the drive home, take it easy. No need to speed home and risk getting a ticket on a holiday weekend.

One last thought: Author Erma Bombeck said it well – Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare, but are consumed in 12 minutes. Football halftimes take 12 minutes. This is not a coincidence!

Be prepared, be patient, slow down, and have a great and safe Thanksgiving!

California Highway Patrol officer Traci Gallian’s “On Duty” column publishes bimonthly. She can be reached at tagallian@chp.ca.gov.