According to the National Safety Commission, a highway and traffic safety organization, Thanksgiving weekend is the most-traveled holiday period of the year. Typically, more than 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers do so by car, resulting in an increased number of car accidents simply because of the higher number of vehicles on the road. When combined with the risk factors added by holiday travel, though, the threat of being injured in a car accident around Thanksgiving is even greater.
The National Safety Commission also reports that Thanksgiving is the deadliest holiday period of the year - in 2008, for example, 389 people were killed and thousands were injured in Thanksgiving motor-vehicle accidents, or accidents from 6:00 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to midnight on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
A couple of reasons why Thanksgiving weekend is such a dangerous time for traveling by car are that so many people are on the road, and many are trying to travel long distances after working all day on Wednesday. This leads to extended and frustrating traffic congestion, which may cause drivers to continue driving at night or when tired. It also may lead drivers to take risks they might not otherwise take to get to their destinations as soon as possible. Studies show that fatigued drivers' reaction times can be even slower than drunk drivers' reaction times, increasing the likelihood of an auto accident.
Many drivers also wait to go home until Sunday evening, amid the same traffic conditions. In addition, eating big meals of turkey leftovers and drinking beer during Sunday's football games also increases the risk of being in a Thanksgiving car accident.
To arrive safely at your destination this Thanksgiving, follow these tips from the National Safety Commission:
- Wear your seat belt
- Follow the speed limit
- Give yourself enough time to arrive without rushing
- Get sufficient rest and don't drive when tired
- Arrange to travel on non-peak days if possible
- Avoid distracted driving and don't use your cell phone while driving
- Don't drink and drive
Planning for safe travel can help you make your holidays as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.