Traffic safety should be a priority year-round, but it is especially important during the holidays. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the Thanksgiving weekend is one of the deadliest stretches on our nation’s roads and highways.
Many people can be badly hurt—even killed—in a collision during the Thanksgiving weekend, so please exercise extreme caution. Should you be hurt in a wreck, reach out to a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer at Barney Injury Law today.
Why Thanksgiving is So Deadly
There are many reasons why we see an increase in fatalities during this long weekend, but one primary cause is alcohol consumption. According to the NSC, a higher percentage of fatalities are attributed to alcohol on Thanksgiving than on the typical day during the year. For example, in 2012, 41% of traffic fatalities were attributed to alcohol, compared to 31% on the rest of the year.
In fact, the rate has been higher every Thanksgiving since 1982—save for one year. The lone exception was 2004, when 30% of deaths on Thanksgiving were attributed to alcohol, compared to 31% for the rest of the year.
Alcohol has well-known impairments to drivers. Someone intoxicated has slower reflexes and probably cannot stop fast enough or take other defensive action. An impaired driver also might not see clearly, which is a huge problem at night. Many people go out to drink at bars on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and try to drive home while under the influence.
Other reasons for the high fatality rate include speeding. Many people are traveling long distances and are anxious to reach their destination, so the temptation to hit the gas is always there.
Predictions for Thanksgiving 2020
We have seen less traffic this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fewer people traveling to work has meant fewer traffic fatalities this year.
But the numbers might offer a false sense of security. For one thing, we know that more people have been speeding during the pandemic. With fewer drivers on the road, some drivers are tempted to drive faster. Speeding increases the risk of an accident, and inclement weather in late November often adds to the risk.
For another, there is no reason to assume traffic will be lower this Thanksgiving, regardless of traffic volume the rest of the time. People still want to see family and friends during the holidays. We anticipate congested traffic and encourage drivers to assume the same. For that reason, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
As the NSC points out, fatalities are not the entire picture. Even if a motorist does not die, they could suffer a life-changing injury. At a minimum, they might need to take time off from work to go to the doctor and receive treatment.
Each year, there are roughly 114 injuries that require a medical consultation for each fatality. So if we see roughly 400 deaths this year on the Thanksgiving weekend, then we should see roughly 40,000 that require a person to go to the hospital. These injuries can cost our clients thousands of dollars and cause considerable pain and inconvenience.
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice. Seatbelts dramatically reduce the risk of a fatal accident. In fact, the NSC estimates that roughly 165 people do not die each Thanksgiving because they are wearing a seatbelt. The number of people who die would be even lower if everyone buckled up.
Give Us a Call
If you were hurt during the holidays, Barney Injury Law can help. One of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers can meet for a free consultation. We also serve Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia.