Be a safe driver on Thanksgiving holiday

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— The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time of the year for family travel. AAA expects 31.2 million Americans to drive more than 50 miles for their Thanksgiving feast. That's up 1.3 percent from last year.

As you and your family load the car and prepare to drive across town or across the country to share the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and loved ones, millions of other Americans are joining you. Some of them have been up all night packing or have had inadequate rest from working long hours or in anticipation of the holiday.

Long trips can be stressful and very distracting, especially if you're traveling with young children. The key to surviving holiday drive time means planning ahead. And, with the weather forecast, make sure your car is winter road ready. Check your car's battery, check your tires' tread and inflation and pack a winter survival kit that includes a small shovel, blanket and a first aid kit.

Safe driving is up to you. Recognize the risks - and do all you can to ensure your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others on the road.

Ten steps for responsible driving

• Plan your route

• Maintain your vehicle

• Focus your attention

• Minimize your distractions

• Know your surroundings

• Share your space

• Watch your speed

• Keep your distance

• Signal your intentions

• Always wear your seat belt

Nationally, 732 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes during the Thanksgiving travel time in 2005 and half were not wearing seat belts.

Thanksgiving is also a good time to remember that children must always be properly restrained in moving vehicles. Although 98 percent of all American infants - younger than age 1 - are now restrained, older children also need to be in the appropriate and properly installed restraint for their size and age. Seven out of 10 child safety restraints are improperly used.

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