The week of Thanksgiving is known to be one of the deadliest of the year in terms of fatal car crashes. There are several factors that contribute to the increase in severe accidents this time of year. For the victims of Thanksgiving car accidents, the reasons matter less than the outcome. Every year, families are torn apart when negligent drivers cause deadly wrecks.
Among the factors that make Thanksgiving a dangerous time on the roads is poor weather. Snow, wind and rain are a frequent part of Thanksgiving week in many American cities. Drowsy driving is another common factor in holiday accidents, as many drivers take to the roads later at night than they normally would. Alcohol is also a significant problem associated with holiday traffic. Fatalities caused by drunk drivers account for more than 40 percent of Thanksgiving traffic deaths, a near 10 percent increase from the average. Finally, Thanksgiving sees a large increase in the total number of people on the roads, particularly on two-lane roads that may be unfamiliar to the driver.
In 2010, the most recent year for which data has been collected, the NHTSA reported 431 traffic deaths on Thanksgiving Day alone. Depending on the weather, the worst day for traffic fatalities can come at any point during Thanksgiving week. Drivers unwilling or unable to adjust travel plans for inclement weather face an increased risk of getting into a serious accident.
According to AAA estimates, more than 40 million people will drive more than 50 miles over Thanksgiving weekend in 2014. It is important for every driver to remain patient and remember that safety is more important than arriving a few minutes earlier.
Source: USA Today, "Thanksgiving week one of the deadliest on the highway," by Larry Copeland, 18 November 2014