NTSB Chair: Keep Safety Top of Mind this Thanksgiving


​​​WASHINGTON (Nov. 22, 2021) -- As Thanksgiving approaches, the NTSB has some safety reminders for anyone traveling to celebrate with family or friends.

AAA predicts 53.4 million people will travel – by plane, car, or boat – for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020. The National Safety Council estimates that 500 people could die on U.S. roadways over this Thanksgiving holiday. 

“The tragedy is that these deaths are preventable,’’ said NTSB Chair Jennifer L. Homendy. “Safety is a shared responsibility and we each have a role to play. So buckle up, put down the phone and slow down.”

As Americans prepare to travel, Homendy wants everyone to remember that each of us can make our own holiday travel safer by following these tips:

By Car

Impairment by alcohol and other drugs, distraction, and speeding continue to play major roles in motor vehicle crashes.

  • Drive sober. If your holiday celebrations involve alcohol, ask a friend or family member to be your designated driver, or call a taxi or ride-sharing service.
  • Buckle up. Seat belts (and proper child restraints) are your best protection in the event of a crash.
  • Follow safe speeds. Speeding increases both the chances of being involved in a crash and the severity of crash injuries.
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t take or make calls while driving, even using a hands-free device. Hands-free isn’t risk-free. Set your navigation system before you start driving. If you’re traveling with others, ask them to navigate.

By Bus or Train

We’ve made recommendations to regulators and industry to improve passenger rail and motorcoach operations, but travelers should know what to do in an emergency.

  • Pay attention to safety briefings and know where the nearest emergency exit is. If it’s a window or roof hatch, make sure you know how to use it.
  • If you’re unsure of where the exits are or how to use them, or if you didn’t receive a safety briefing, ask your driver or train conductor to brief you.
  • Always use your seat belt when they’re available.

By Air or Sea

Airline and water travel have become incredibly safe, but these tips can help keep you and your loved ones safe in an emergency.

  • When flying, purchase a ticket for all children younger than 2 years old. The NTSB and FAA recommend children under age 2 be in an approved child restraint system. You can likely bring you child’s car seat on the airplane too. The label will usually tell you whether your child car seat is certified for airplane use; the owner’s manual always has this information.
  • Pay close attention to the safety briefing. Airline and marine accidents have become very rare, but you and your family can be safer by being prepared.
  • Whether you’re on an airplane or a boat, know where to find the nearest flotation device.

The NTSB is committed to reducing to zero the number of people who lose their lives in transportation accidents and crashes, no matter the time of year. 

For more information, check out our Most Wanted List of transportation improvements at: https://go.usa.gov/xe5nw

To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).