More Americans will be traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, all thanks to improving economic scenario in the country.

An estimated 42.2 million travelers, up 11.4 percent, are taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home this Thanksgiving holiday, compared to 37.9 million last year, according to American Automobile Association (AAA).

The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 24 to Sunday, November 28.

Trips by automobile remain the dominant mode of transportation for holiday travel with 94 percent of travelers, or 39.7 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 12 percent from last Thanksgiving when 35.5 million Americans reached their destination by motor vehicle.

Along with being thankful for the thanksgiving drivers can be thankful for attention assist which helps assist with driver drowsiness from eating too much turkey.

More Than 80 Percent Will Travel by Car

Most Thanksgiving travelers - more than 80 percent - will go by car, and friends and relatives are likely to share concerns about holiday travel safety.  In recent times, automotive travelers and their families have had a lot to be thankful for, especially in terms of an abundance of technological features designed to help keep them safe throughout the trip.

Thank You for Crumple Zones That Cushion

In the 1950s, Mercedes-Benz designed special nose and tail sections for their cars that helped cushion occupants in the event of a serious collision.  Originally a Mercedes patent, the company permitted other auto manufacturers to use this life-saving feature, and today, crumple zones that cushion are part of virtually every car on the road. 

Speaking of cushions, Mercedes-Benz also pioneered air bags that work with three-point seat belts to provide major protection from the second collision - when occupants would otherwise strike the dash, windshield or steering wheel.  In fact, to identify this Supplemental Restraint System, Mercedes coined the abbreviation SRS, which is now used on nearly all cars to identify seat belt and air bag systems.

Thanks for ABS, ESP and More

ABS - the anti-lock brake system first used by Mercedes-Benz in the 1970s.  Now available on most cars, ABS allows drivers to continue steering when the brakes are applied during emergencies.  For many drivers, this also means shorter stopping distances.

The development of ABS led to another Mercedes first - the Electronic Stability Program, which prevents spins and slides.  Cars equipped with ESP stability control are 35 percent less likely to be involved in a collision.  Additionally, sport utility vehicles with stability control are involved in 67 percent fewer accidents than SUVs without the system.  SUVs usually have a higher center of gravity, and ESP has been found to be especially effective in reducing rollovers.  SUVs with stability control are reported to have 80 percent fewer rollovers than vehicles without the system.  ESP has proven to work so well that the Federal government will require it on all future light-passenger vehicles sold in the U.S.

The First Car with Reflexes

Mercedes-Benz used its ESP sensors to develop PRE-SAFE, which actually identifies likely collisions and takes protective measures in the valuable seconds before a possible impact.  PRE-SAFE® automatically tightens the front seat belts, and the front passenger seat (and optional power rear seats) move to positions that can provide better protection.  If the system senses an impending rollover, the sun roof closes as well.  Side windows also close to provide better support for the window curtain air bags, and seat cushions inflate to provide greater lateral support for occupants.

Thanks for Cars That Can Even Stop Themselves

In recent years, DISTRONIC PLUS radar-based cruise control can help maintain a safe following distance behind the car in front.  More important, Mercedes-Benz has pioneered a version called PRE-SAFE Brake, which can actually stop a car in an emergency if the driver reacts too slowly.  Radar works with other PRE-SAFE sensors to decide whether or not the driver needs help.

With on-board radar sensors now a reality, Mercedes-Benz also offers Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots behind the vehicle.  Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings.

Time for a Rest Along the Way?

On that long trip to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, drivers are tempted to keep going, with few rest stops. This can lead to drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.

Perhaps the most elegant use of life-saving technology is Mercedes-Benz ATTENTION ASSIST, which uses a simple steering sensor coupled to smart software to sense erratic steering - the first sign of drowsiness.  The system triggers an audible warning, and a Time for a Rest? message with a coffee cup icon appears in the instrument cluster.

Arrive Safely at Grandmother's House

While highway speeds in the U.S. have crept upward, accident rates are down - a sure sign that cars are safer and smarter.  For the most part, automotive safety technology is inconspicuous but powerful, working in the background like an invisible guardian angel, to help make sure everyone arrives safely at their holiday destination.

In the future, the proverbial trip to grandmother's house might be made even safer by some features being tested on the Mercedes-Benz F800 Style research car.  Although the current DISTRONIC PLUS system will follow the vehicle in front through stop-and-go traffic and open highways, it works best on straight roads.  The F800 Style adds the eyes of a stereo camera that recognizes lane markings, allowing the research car to follow a vehicle in front through curves as well.  This further reduces the stress of driving, allowing the driver to remain alert and able to react quickly.

The F800 Style also features PRE-SAFE 360, which monitors all around the car, including the area at the rear.  If this system recognizes a likely rear collision, the brakes are automatically applied, reducing the severity of whiplash injuries and helping to prevent secondary collisions, for example, when the car might otherwise be pushed into an intersection or pedestrian crossing.  However, if the driver sees there is room in front to avoid the rear collision by accelerating, the brakes are released instantaneously.