Is There an Increase in Fatal Car Accidents Over Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means that people are planning their menus, looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends and making travel plans for the long weekend. While Thanksgiving is all about family, friends and feasting on turkey with all the fixings, it is also one of the most highly traveled holidays of the year, and a large percentage of people travel by car. Congested roadways, combined with other factors like drunk driving and drowsy driving cause a significant spike in serious, even fatal car accidents over the Thanksgiving weekend. If you are involved in a car accident this Thanksgiving, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
How Common Are Car Accidents During the Thanksgiving Weekend?
The Thanksgiving weekend starts on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving and ends on the following Sunday evening. There are a range of factors that make this a dangerous time to be on the road, including drunk driving and drowsy driving. If at all possible, motorists should avoid driving during the evenings, when car accidents are more likely to occur. The following are some alarming statistics about the dangers of driving over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:
- According to one study, the most dangerous days to drive are Thanksgiving Day and the following Saturday. Thanksgiving has an average of 176 fatal car accidents and the following Saturday has an average of 197 fatal crashes.
- The most dangerous time to drive is on Thanksgiving between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Thanksgiving dinner is often served between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., so people who are celebrating locally are often driving home sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. With more drivers on the road, there is an increased risk of fatal accidents, particularly if motorists have been drinking, or are drowsy after eating a big meal.
- The second most dangerous time to drive is during the early hours of Thanksgiving Day, particularly between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving – or Thanksgiving Eve – is known as “America’s biggest bar night” since people are home for the weekend, and it is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and let off some steam before the big family holiday the next day. Unfortunately, this can lead to an increase in fatal drunk driving accidents.
- The number of fatal car accidents doubles during Thanksgiving week compared to the rest of the year.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents Over Thanksgiving Weekend?
While getting into a serious car accident is the last thing you would expect to have happen while you are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the roads for the following reasons:
- More drivers on the road: According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), driving is the most popular mode of transportation for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The more motorists there are on the road, the more likely it is that a serious car accident can occur. This is particularly true when travelers are in a rush to get to their destination and become angry or frustrated when they are stuck in traffic. They may be more likely to speed, tailgate, weave in and out of lanes, or engage in other dangerous driving behavior that can cause a serious accident.
- Inclement weather: Depending on where you live, the weather during the Thanksgiving weekend can range from typical fall weather with clear blue skies and cool temperatures to cold and rainy. An early snowfall or freezing rain is also possible. In Ohio, the weather tends to be cooler than other parts of the country, so there is a risk for wet, icy, slippery road conditions. In addition, rain and snow can decrease visibility, making it difficult for motorists to see other cars, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
- Drunk driving: Unfortunately, drunk driving is a common problem over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, starting on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Oftentimes, people kick off the long weekend by meeting up with friends at a local bar, or at a friend’s home. The festivities often continue throughout the weekend, from Thanksgiving Day through the following Sunday. Unfortunately, people who have had one too many drinks often get behind the wheel and drive home. This can have devastating or fatal consequences if this results in a serious drunk driving accident.
- Drowsy driving: Oftentimes, people travel on Thanksgiving Day, which can be exhausting in itself. If you woke up early, drove several hours to spend the day with family or friends, maybe had one too many helpings of turkey with all the incredible side dishes, and even enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner, you will be exhausted and in no shape to drive several hours home on the same day. Unfortunately, people do not always take drowsy driving as seriously as they should and will drive home drowsy. Extreme drowsiness can cause slower reaction times, impact your decision-making abilities, and have a negative impact on your coordination and judgment.
- Out-of-town drivers: Since there are so many travelers visiting family and friends who live out of town, you may be sharing the road with drivers who are unfamiliar with the area. If a motorist is unsure about where he or she is going, the driver may be more likely to make a sudden turn, or slam on the brakes unexpectedly, which can increase the risk of an accident.
How Can I Avoid a Serious Car Accident During Thanksgiving Weekend?
Whether you are driving several hours to spend Thanksgiving with family, or you are staying local, there are some proactive steps you can take to stay safe and avoid a devastating car accident over the holiday weekend. When you are aware of the common causes of car accidents, you can try to avoid them. The following are examples of effective safety tips that can help you and your loved ones stay safe this Thanksgiving, and throughout the year:
- Give yourself extra travel time. Assume that you are going to encounter heavy traffic and plan accordingly. Do not rush, or try to bypass traffic by speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, or making rude gestures to other motorists. Take your time, follow the rules of the road, and focus on getting to your destination safely, even if it takes longer than normal.
- Get enough sleep before a long drive. Make sure that you are well-rested before driving, particularly if you have a long drive ahead of you after eating a big meal. Ideally, you should avoid driving after a long day, but if that is not an option, consider sharing the driving responsibilities with another licensed driver, make stops along the way to get some fresh air and pull over to rest if you start to show signs of drowsiness, including frequent blinking and yawning, drifting out of your lane, and hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road.
- Never drink and drive. This should go without saying, but too often, people get behind the wheel and drive home after enjoying a few glasses of wine or several cocktails with their Thanksgiving feast. Even a couple of drinks can cause impairments like reduced coordination and slower reaction times. If you plan on consuming alcohol, appoint a designated driver in your group, or get a safe ride home by calling a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Whether you are stuck in traffic on your way to dinner or driving home in a quiet residential area, stay alert and pay attention to the road ahead. You never know when another motorist could cut you off, or a deer could dart across the street when you least expect it.
- Avoid driving in inclement weather. The weather can be a bit unpredictable in late November, particularly in the Midwest. If the forecast calls for snow or freezing rain, road conditions are likely to be hazardous and unsafe. You should strongly consider avoiding driving, at least until the roads have been plowed or salted and are no longer slippery and unsafe.
Dayton Car Accident Lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC Represent All Car Accident Victims
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident over the Thanksgiving weekend, you are urged to contact the Dayton car accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC. We will assist you with every step of the claims process, ensure that your legal rights are protected and seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 937-222-7477 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Dayton, Ohio, where we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.