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Thanksgiving Travel and Traffic Safety

Published: November 25, 2020 0911 10:09 pm

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grandma and granddaughter making a pie for thanksgivingThanksgiving is this week, but for millions of Americans across the country, it’s most likely going to look very different from previous Thanksgivings. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged large parts of the country, and upended life for millions of our fellow citizens. It’s ended businesses, and put important parts of our lives on hold, including many peoples plans for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging people to remember that postponing travel and staying at home is the best way to protect yourself, and those around you, from getting and spreading COVID-19. 

Cases are continuing to increase all over the United States, and Thanksgiving celebrations often include older family members who may be more susceptible to the dangerous effects of the virus, so the smartest thing to do is stay home and celebrate remotely, and with the people you live with. It may not be ideal, but it’s definitely safest. 

If you are planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC urges you to follow some basic precautions to try and make travel as safe as possible, including checking travel restrictions for the areas you’ll be in before you leave, getting a flu shot, being vigilant in wearing a facemask whenever you’re in public, and making sure you regularly wash and sanitize your hands. 

For those who will be on the road at some point this week, you should also make sure you’re taking precautions against another threat to your safety, common during this time of the year: motor vehicle accidents. Because the National Safety Council (NSC) is estimating that as many as 599 fatalities will occur this holiday weekend, across the United States. 

Thanksgiving Traffic Fatalities Are a Serious Problem

The NSC is estimating that this year there will be between 380 to 599 traffic fatalities over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with the official estimate coming in at 485. 

As they note in their results, there is always uncertainty with any kind of estimate, and the uncertainty is increased this year by the effect the coronavirus pandemic is having on travel and social activities, but based on historical data, you’re better safe than sorry, in assuming that accidents will still increase, despite the pandemic. 

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 alone, there were 538 traffic accident fatalities across the United States for that year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And those numbers are typical for the holiday. 

Because it’s a long weekend containing a much loved holiday, people, under normal circumstances at least, often travel to see family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, which officially runs 4.25 days, from Wednesday evening to the end of Sunday. Long weekends mean travel, and that means more people on the road, and a greater likelihood of motor vehicle accidents. 

But, it’s also a period of time where people drink and drive more frequently than in other parts of the year. According to NHTSA data, on average over the last 40 years, over a third of the accident fatalities that occur over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend period, involve drivers who have been drinking. 

Other data shows that, on Thanksgiving Day for that same time frame, the percentage of traffic fatalities involving alcohol-impaired drivers was on average, 5% higher than the annual average.

So, if you’re planning on traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, be sure to follow CDC guidelines for protecting yourself against the coronavirus, but remember to follow the best practices for avoiding car accidents as well. Don’t drive distracted, don’t speed, and don’t drink and drive.

If you or a loved one are injured in an accident due to the negligent actions of another driver, make sure you get appropriate medical care, and then make sure you contact an experienced lawyer so that you can learn what your legal options are. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you as to the best way to move forward, in seeking fair compensation for your injuries and expenses.

Further Reading: Halloween DUI Car Accidents

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