Hunting for holiday bargains after Thanksgiving has become as much of a tradition for many people as turkey and pumpkin pie. In recent years, stores have tried to cash in on the need to spend by extending hours into Thanksgiving Day itself.
However, this year, many retailers are dialing it back and returning to an early opening on the day after Turkey Day—a day known as Black Friday. If you’re one of the millions of people who wakes up early to nab the best deals, take a little time first to read these tips for avoiding a post-Thanksgiving disaster.
Car Crashes Spike Over Thanksgiving Week
According to Progressive Insurance, claims for car accidents spiked over Thanksgiving week in 2015. Car accidents increased by 34 percent across the country on Black Friday, compared to other Fridays in November. Most of the claims filed for crashes taking place on this day were for parking lot accidents.
While Black Friday shows the biggest surge, crashes also increase on the day before Thanksgiving by 25 percent as people travel to their holiday destinations. The Sunday after Thanksgiving has the highest percentage of out-of-state accidents of any day of the holiday week. While the entire holiday week poses risks for drivers, with a little planning and patience, you can avoid a fender bender or worse as you fill your trunk with holiday bargains.
Causes of Black Friday Crashes
People crash on Black Friday for the same reasons they crash on other days, but with more people on the same roads with the same goals, your chances of having an accident are higher. It’s important to remember that a bargain on the hot new toy of the year probably doesn’t outweigh the cost of medical treatment and car repair.
Be especially aware of these risky driving behaviors on Black Friday:
- Distracted driving. Finding the best deals on the busiest shopping day of the year takes organization and coordination, and many people use their cell phones while driving to accomplish this. Texting friends, using mapping apps, consulting new bargain-hunting apps, and checking in with family at home all require you to take your attention from the road or parking lot in front of you.
- Fatigued driving. As stores traditionally open at 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, many sleepy shoppers are on the roads. As the day wears on and drivers become more fatigued, careless accidents are sure to happen.
- Road rage. As some stores limit the number of items available for bargain prices, many people see Black Friday as a race against other shoppers to get the best deals. Their determination to beat others to the prize often results in aggressive driving, which leads to crashes.
- Impaired driving. Who doesn’t need to relax after a frenzied morning of shopping? Unfortunately, a drink or two at lunch will contribute to the inability to safely maneuver in parking lots and roads between shopping malls, leading to more accidents.
Clearly, avoiding these dangerous driving behaviors will make you a safer driver on Black Friday, but how can you handle others who are not so conscientious?
Tips for Safe Shopping on Black Friday
Being a defensive driver is more important than ever on Black Friday. Get plenty of sleep; put away your cell phone; and don't drink during the day to ensure you're not contributing to the dangers on Black Friday.
To protect yourself from others, do the following:
- Plan your route ahead of time. Knowing which stores have the items you're looking for and planning out a route will save you from indecision and that panicked feeling which can lead to aggressive driving.
- Increase your following distance. Give other drivers, who may be tired, angry, or distracted, plenty of space to make their mistakes.
- Park in the outskirts of parking lots. Most of the crashes on Black Friday happen in parking lots. Avoid the stress and risk by taking a spot far from the front door. You’ll walk off your holiday meal and feel more relaxed.
- Check map apps between stores. Before heading from one store to the next, check a map app to avoid congestion and possible accidents.
Also consider avoiding the risk altogether by shopping online. Many retailers plan to offer the same deals online at midnight that will be available in stores six hours later. Sometimes you'll find even better deals on the Monday after Thanksgiving, known as Cyber Monday.
The legal team at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday season!