State Officials Warn Alcohol & Weather Could Be Dangerous Mix On Thanksgiving

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NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky

NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky

TRENTON – With inclement weather conditions expected for the Thanksgiving travel holiday, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety is asking drivers to take the necessary safety precautions to ensure everyone reaches their destination safely this week.

With precipitation and low temperatures expected this week for most of New Jersey, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky said motorists should practice caution before and during their trips.

Should snow or icy conditions hit the state over the busy holiday, Poedubicky said motorists should remove all ice and snow before driving.

“Ice and snow that shakes loose from car can become a dangerous projectile on the road for all motorists,” Poedubicky said. “Take those few minutes before you leave to remove all the snow from your car, especially from the hood, roof and windows.”

Since October of 2010, New Jersey law requires motorists to “make all reasonable efforts” to remove accumulated ice or snow from all exposed surfaces of their motor vehicle before operation. Prior to the change, motorists could only be cited if property damage or injuries occurred as a result of failing to remove ice and snow from their vehicles. Fines for violating the law range from $25 to $75. If failure to remove ice and snow results in injury or property damage, motorists face fines ranging from $200 to $1,000, while commercial motor vehicle drivers face fines ranging from $500 to $1,500 for each offense.

Poedubicky said drunk driving was also a major concern during Thanksgiving.

“The night before Thanksgiving is worrying because we know a lot of alcohol is consumed over several hours throughout the night. So it is important that if you’re planning on drinking, you have a safe way home, whether you plan to walk or get a ride home from a designated driver,” Poedubicky said.

During the official Thanksgiving holiday period last year, 10 people were killed in eight crashes on New Jersey’s roadways. Four of those crashes were alcohol-related.

The Division is offering the following winter driving tips as winter and inclement weather approaches:
Drive slowly (at or below the posted speed limit) and adjust your speed for the changing conditions.

  • Turn on your headlights, using low beams when traveling in snow.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room to work. Don’t tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, exercise extreme caution in doing so. Remember, a snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not always see you.
  • If you skid, don’t brake or accelerate. Remove your foot from the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction of the skid (the direction the rear of your vehicle is sliding). When your car starts heading in the desired direction, carefully straighten the wheel.
  • Slow down before exiting the highway. Exit ramps often have icy patches, sharp curves and stalled or stopped vehicles.
  • Have a personal safety kit easily accessible in your vehicle that includes: an ice scraper; shovel; jumper cables; blanket; sand, salt or kitty litter for traction; flashlight; water and non-perishable food.
  • If your car becomes disabled, pull off the road as far as possible, turn on your emergency flashers and remain with your car until help arrives. If you can’t get your vehicle off the road and are uncertain about your safety, do not stay in your vehicle or stand behind it.

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