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By Jim Adler November 11, 2015

Thanksgiving holidays mean warm family gatherings. Sadly, they also mean hundreds of lives lost in car accidents.

Thanksgiving Driving Statistics

In fact, the long Thanksgiving weekend is annually the most deadly driving time of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. USDOT says about 90% of Americans use a motor vehicle to reach a destination at Thanksgiving, with an increase of over 50% in trips of over 50 miles.

All that added traffic contributes to Thanksgiving weekend having more than 500 traffic deaths each year, and a big reason for that is drinking and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says drivers 21-24 years old are the group most likely to be driving while intoxicated.

Night driving also is dangerous. The NHTSA says the fatality rate from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. is three times greater than for daytime driving. That’s in part due to the fact that 11 million Americans who drive have uncorrected vision problems, and they’re often worse at night.

The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System reports that, on Thanksgiving 2012, 764 fatal crashes occurred, compared to 654 fatal crashes at Christmas. Thanksgiving also brought a whopping 50,000 non-fatal traffic collisions.

The NHTSA says around 60% of passengers killed were not wearing a safety belt, and about 40% of passengers killed were in a wreck with a drunk driver.

The AAA (American Automobile Association) expects over 3.5 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more on the long weekend, with 90% of them making such trips on roads.

Any day can be hazardous for driving, but the Wednesday before Thanksgiving can be so deadly that it’s been nicknamed “Black Wednesday.”

Thanksgiving Driving Safety Tips

Many Thanksgiving driving safety tips can serve motorists as the holidays approach this year.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, American Red Cross and other agencies advise motorists to follow tried and true safety precautions:

  • Ensure your car is in good working condition
  • Have a full tank of gas when you leave home
  • Check tires’ air pressure and ensure you have ample windshield fluid
  • Clean signal lights, headlights, taillights and windows
  • Do not drink and drive or otherwise drive impaired; if you drink, have a designated driver who doesn’t drink
  • Watch out for drunk drivers
  • Be well rested and alert when you drive
  • Wear safety belts; many Thanksgiving fatalities involve not wearing seat belts
  • Observe speed limits and slow down; speeding is a major cause of car wrecks
  • Be careful in work zones
  • Avoid cell phones and other distractions, which greatly increase the odds of a crash
  • If you must make a call, pull off the road and do so, then resume driving
  • On a long trip, make frequent stops and take turns driving
  • For long trips, try to leave Tuesday and return Saturday, when traffic isn’t as heavy
  • Don’t tailgate
  • At dusk, turn on your headlights
  • If you have engine trouble, pull off the roadway as much as possible
  • Check weather reports and road conditions in advance of your trip
  • Plan your route in advance and use a GPS while you travel if that’s available

All of these driving tips are pertinent at any time of the year but are perhaps a bit more helpful when traffic is heavy, as on Thanksgiving holidays.

The Texas DPS will be increasing its patrols on major Texas highways for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Make sure you don’t become one of the DPS’s statistics.

Jim Adler & Associates staunchly supports safe driving measures and encourages you to buckle up, slow down, avoid alcohol and drive safely during the Thanksgiving holidays — and at any time of year.

If you do suffer injury in a car accident, please notify our law firm for free legal advice. We may be able to help you with your case.

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