Planning for Safe Thanksgiving Travels

Whether putting together a menu or planning a travel route, many of us spent the weekend finalizing our plans for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is a chance to reflect on the things that enrich our lives and give thanks for things we typically take for granted, not to mention the mix of family, friends, food, and football! Keeping the day joyful means keeping everyone safe, especially on the roadway, given the danger of Thanksgiving car accidents. In advance of the holiday rush, our Panama City accident law firm shares some tips for safe Thanksgiving travel.

The Deadliest Holiday on U.S. Roads

Why focus on car accidents as Thanksgiving approaches? As detailed in a report from ABC News released on the eve of last year's holiday, Thanksgiving holds the dubious distinction of being the deadliest holiday on roads across the United States. Citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, the article reports that 431 people died on roads across the country during the Thanksgiving holiday 2010 (holidays all represent 3-4 day periods – see Table 14 in the NHTSA 2010 Data for details).

In contrast, 403 people died on U.S. roads during Labor Day 2010 observations, 392 during the Fourth of July celebration, and 259 during the Christmas holiday. Notably, while many would imagine it would top the list, the New Year's Day 2010 saw 297 fatalities over 3 days, too many but well behind the top 3, perhaps due to better planning by those intending to drink.

Several factors contribute to the danger on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday period. ABC notes that AAA projections for 2012 put 39.1 million people on the roads, a full 90% of holiday travelers. These sheer numbers raise the accident total, with the rate of accidents likely growing as traffic back-ups increase. Driver impairment is another major threat. Drowsiness is a common cause of driver impairment, especially for those travelling long-distances or hitting the road after a full day on the job.

Alcohol, of course, is another source of impairment – the later the hour, the higher the percentage of drunk drivers. While traffic congestion results in a high number of minor accidents during the daytime, the reduced traffic (allowing for higher speeds) combined with alcohol impairment lead to more serious accidents in the late night hours. Further, as discussed in an interesting report from The Wall Street Journal in 2011, there has been a notable increase in accidents on "Thanksgiving Eve" due to college kids gathering with high school friends in alcohol-filled reunions.

Thanksgiving Road Travel Tips

As always, we believe in putting prevention first. Some tips for staying safe on the roads this Thanksgiving include:

  • Prepare for delays – Too many accidents are the result of driver frustration.
  • Designate a driver – Celebrants may underestimate how much they drink between wine with the meal and beer with the game. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or stay the night.
  • Stay alert/awake – Many people drive long distances to dine with loved ones. Remember that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Get a good night's sleep, alternate with another driver, or pull off for a cat nap if you feel yourself becoming especially sleepy.
  • Be alert for impaired drivers – Pay extra attention, watching out for drivers who didn't heed the advice above and are drunk, drowsy, or both.
  • Wear seat belts – Thanksgiving Day and every day, seat belts can keep an accident from turning into a true tragedy.

At The Pittman Firm, we are thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Panama City community and for those who trust our Northwest Florida injury law firm to help them during some of the most challenging times of their lives. May your Thanksgiving holiday be happy and safe, and may the only danger be a touch of indigestion after that extra slice of pie!

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