With so many things going on this November, it's easy to overlook that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Many truck drivers are already starting to prepare. They are adjusting their schedules so that they'll be home by Thanksgiving dinner or planning out where to eat while on the road. They'll also be sharing the road with millions of Americans this Thanksgiving weekend, which could lead to significant traffic, especially when entering or exiting cities and densely populated areas. This increased volume of traffic and harsh winter conditions that are already starting to appear in several states could lead to riskier driving conditions.
With all the challenges truck drivers face during Thanksgiving, it’s even more important to prepare and be aware of safe driving practices to follow. In this guide, we list down some key reminders and tips on how to stay safe and take care of yourself while driving during Thanksgiving.
- Make sure your rig is ready for the road. Check if all of the fluids are topped up, the wipers are working, the tires have the proper pressure, and the other vital systems are serviced and in good condition. Even a quick walk around your rig can help you catch and address problems that could potentially strand you on the road. Damaged, worn, or defective parts must be repaired or replaced as necessary.
We also highly recommend leaving earlier than scheduled to anticipate any delays from increased traffic, construction, or inclement weather. You can refer to the DOT’s National Traffic and Road Closure Information portal for in-depth information about the latest road condition and closures per state.
- Remove snow from your vehicle before heading out. Leaving snow or frost to accumulate in the windshield or mirrors will result in dangerous and unnecessary blind spots to deal with while driving. Make sure that the exhaust pipes are free of snow as well to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. And before entering the cab, shake off as much snow and moisture from your clothes and shoes. This helps reduce the moisture level inside the cab and prevents fog from forming inside the windshield.
- Stay focused, and avoid distractions. One of the most challenging parts of driving during Thanksgiving is not being home with your loved ones. Thankfully, Facetime, Skype, and other messaging apps have made it possible to talk and even see friends and family while on the road. But while it's tempting to have Thanksgiving dinner live-streamed into your cab while at the wheel, it's better to keep distractions to a minimum.
Distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of traffic accidents, and with the increased traffic leading to the holiday weekend, the risks are too high. So make sure to use your phone and other devices only when the truck is stationary. And, most importantly, don't text while driving. Even two seconds of distraction is enough to double the chances of an accident.
- Don’t drive impaired. Are you thinking about getting a couple of drinks with your neighbors before going to work? It’s best to stay sober. DUI arrests and accidents caused by drunk driving are at their highest from Thanksgiving weekend to New Year’s Day, so steer clear of alcoholic beverages before taking the wheel. For the same reason, you should also safely assume that other drivers on the road may be intoxicated. So be extra careful when driving, especially when overtaking other vehicles.
Lack of sleep is also another common concern for drivers working on Thanksgiving. As a rule of thumb, always have a good night’s rest before you take the wheel. If you feel drowsy after binging on some turkey and cranberry sauce, we recommend taking a quick nap rather than powering through it.
- Stay especially alert in deer country. Deer hunting season often coincides with Thanksgiving throughout many parts of North America, with deer being at their most active during fall and winter. When entering such areas, we recommend switching on the high beam lights as this will illuminate the deer's eyes further ahead. And if you see one deer on the road, there's a high chance that there will be more. Finally, if you do end up in a situation where colliding with a deer is inevitable, don't try to swerve your vehicle. While it may sound counterintuitive, maintaining control of your truck should be a priority.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Just because you’re stuck out on the road doesn’t mean you should miss out on the festivities. Many restaurants offer traditional Thanksgiving dishes from turkey to pecan pie. You can also make a brief stop at a local church, which usually provides a Thanksgiving feast to those working or out on the road during the holidays. Major truck stops have also begun to offer a complete Thanksgiving meal for free with proof of a commercial driver’s license. If you have the time to stop at a hotel, you can typically get a special holiday meal there as well.
On the other hand, you can also choose to cook or bring some Thanksgiving food along with you. If you have a portable stove, refrigerator, or cooler in your cab, you can prepare a basic Thanksgiving meal such as instant mashed potatoes, turkey breast or rotisserie chicken, and other sides. These are often readily available in grocery stores, although you should purchase the ingredients beforehand to avoid long lines. Make sure to have some disposable plates and cutlery as well as wet wipes for fast and easy cleanup.
During this busy holiday season, it’s just as important to stay safe as it is to be grateful for all the blessings you and your family have received this year. So make sure that your vehicle is always in its top shape before heading out into the road. And if you need new parts to get your truck back into peak performance, FinditParts has got you covered. We offer a comprehensive catalog of replacement parts and accessories for heavy duty trucks, trailers, and commercial vehicles. We’re open 24/7, even during the holidays, to provide you with high-quality truck and trailer parts.