TOLEDO, OH (November 22, 2018) – Now that the turkey has been carved and the pies sliced for dessert, all attention turns to Black Friday shopping and the many sweet deals available to kick off the holiday shopping season.
While many are making plans to join more than 164 million consumers planning to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday period this year, AAA is sending important traffic safety reminders for a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.
“There will be an unprecedented amount of traffic near and around malls and shopping centers in the days immediately following Thanksgiving,” says Kara Hitchens, AAA spokeswoman. “It is critical that motorists and pedestrians alike practice patience and caution while attempting to navigate parking lots and roadways.”
According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) study, nearly 80 percent of American drivers have expressed significant anger and aggression behind the wheel. In addition, approximately eight million U.S. drivers have engaged in some type of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.
“It’s completely normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, but we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choices,” continues Hitchens. “Don’t risk escalating a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver might do. Maintain a cool head and focus on reaching your destination safely.”
Data from the Ohio Department of Public Safety shows that drivers who were emotional (i.e. depressed, angry or disturbed) caused more than 1,700 crashes on Ohio roads in 2017.
AAA offers these tips to help prevent road rage:
- Don’t Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their breaks, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
- Be Tolerant and Forgiving: Assume that it’s not personal. The other driver may just be having a really bad day.
- Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 911 if needed.
AAA is also sounding the alarm about pedestrian safety this holiday season.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian strikes nationwide have been on the rise in the last two years. GHSA projects nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2017, marking the second year in a row at numbers not seen in 25 years.
Pedestrians now account for approximately 16 percent of all motor vehicle deaths, compared with 11 percent just a few years ago.
In 2016, GHSA reports 5,987 people on foot lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes. Based on 2016 data collected by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ohio ranked 39th in pedestrians deaths with 139 people losing their lives when struck by motor vehicles.
“Injuries and fatalities can spike this season as a result of many shoppers being hyper focused on beating the crowd to the hottest sales of the season as opposed to focusing on where they are driving or walking,” says Hitchens. “Pedestrians and motorists share the responsibility of creating safe roadways at all times.”
For pedestrians, AAA recommends the following:
- Be visible – wear light-colored or reflective clothing and walk in well-lit areas
- Stay alert – avoid distractions and put down your smartphone and do not wear headphones in both ears
- Follow the rules – know your city’s traffic rules, signs, and signals
- Walk in safe places – use crosswalks and walk on sidewalks whenever possible
- Avoid drug or alcohol impairment.
For motorists, AAA recommends the following:
- Be alert. Look out for pedestrians at all times and follow posted speed limits.
- Drive with caution near crosswalks. Always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and when approaching a crosswalk, reduce your speed and prepare to stop.
- Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol and drugs impair your reaction time, reflexes and decision-making skills.