The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the happiest for many families, but it can also be one of the saddest for families who lose loved ones to an auto accident. The week of Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest on the roads.
A Record Number of Travelers on the Road at Thanksgiving
According to AAA, 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers will set out for their destination by car. And the road will be long and certainly not easy. Those who depart on Wednesday can expect their trip to take 26 percent longer than on a regular weekday.
Statistics of Auto Accident Fatalities at Thanksgiving
The Highway Loss Data Institute found in a 2009 study that Thanksgiving is one of four federal holidays when there is a higher-than-average ratio of fatal crashes (also New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day). And, on Thanksgiving Day in 2010, 431 people died in auto accidents, more than any other holiday that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Causes of Thanksgiving Holiday Auto Accidents
There are a number of factors that contribute to the high rate of auto accidents connected with Thanksgiving travel. Many travelers drive late at night and in the wee hours of the morning, making drivers more prone to drowsiness.
Some people are navigating unfamiliar roads as they head to a new destination or attempt to bypass roads with heavier traffic. And then there are the revelers who get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
The weather can be a culprit in auto accidents surrounding Thanksgiving-related travel, especially in Michigan. Speeding is also responsible for many crashes – the turkey will still be there when you arrive, and so will the microwave.
How to Stay Safe During Thanksgiving Highway Travel
Wednesday night will see a nation full of busy roads. And it’s reported that the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. travel period sees more fatal crashes nationwide than at any other time of the day.
If you truly want to be thankful for your happy family, make it a priority to drive carefully this Thanksgiving, and every day. Stay off of the phone, stay alert, and, if possible, choose to travel at an off-peak time to avoid crowded roads full of tired people who are aggressively trying to reach their destination.