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Expert advice to drivers for safe holiday travel

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DULUTH, MN -- The week of Thanksgiving is notorious for its surge in car crashes.

Despite the pandemic and stay home advisories, drivers can expect holiday traffic.

Denise McDougall, Northern Lights Driver Education owner, and a licensed instructor, said as people plan for their holiday celebrations, they should add travel safety to their list.

"If you are going to go someplace to gather for the holidays, make it a safe trip," McDougall said. "You don't want someone to get a phone call saying, 'Okay, I won't be there. I was just in a crash.'"

Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer Lt. Gordon Shank said, in order to prevent a crash, drivers should give themselves extra time to get to their destination, put away distractions, and adjust their speed to the weather.

"Just because the speed limit says 60, 70, 55, whatever it is, doesn't mean you may want to drive that speed in those certain wintery mixes, snow, or ice that we may get," Shank said.

If you are involved in a crash, call 911, keep your seat belt on, and do not get out of the car.

"Other people are still driving on the road and, especially in wintery conditions, the vehicle may slide and it's unpredictable where they're going to go," Shank said.

McDougall said, if you see someone else in a crash, it is tempting to get out and help. If you decide to pull over, stay in the car, and call 911.

"Too many people on the side of the road, I know some of those people who have been hit because of cars coming down the road," she said.

Giving drivers extra space is a small step to help keep people safe.

Other driver safety tips include ensuring your headlights are on, moving to the left lane when a car is stopped on the shoulder, and keeping your hands off of your cell phone.

Another big reason for crashes during Thanksgiving is impaired driving. Always make a plan to get home safely.

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Kendall Jarboe

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