Many holiday weekends in the U.S. result in a rise in motor vehicle collision rates, from serious and fatal crashes around summer holidays like the Fourth of July to those during the winter holiday season. Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest holidays of the year when it comes to car accidents, due in part to an increase in drivers on the road, increased alcohol consumption, and wintry weather. According to the American Safety Council, it is critical to be prepared for accident risks if you are planning to travel by car during this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.
Despite the fact that many families are remaining at home for Thanksgiving due to the public health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many will still be traveling. And although the pandemic has reduced traffic, areas across the country have seen increases in deadly car accidents. What do you need to know about Thanksgiving travel and the effects of the pandemic on driving safety?
Thanksgiving is Always a Dangerous Holiday for Car Travel
In any given year, Thanksgiving is a particularly dangerous holiday for car travel. The National Safety Council (NSC) emphasizes that more than 400 people are likely to die in traffic collisions during the Thanksgiving holiday period in any given year, and more than 40,000 people are likely to suffer injuries in collisions. Those numbers do not even include relatively minor vehicle collisions in which nobody sustains injuries.
Why are fatality rates so high during the Thanksgiving holiday? First, there are a significant number of intoxicated drivers on the road. The night before Thanksgiving is known to be one of the riskiest for driving in terms of being injured in a collision with a drunk driver. Since nearly everyone is off from work on Thanksgiving Day, that Wednesday evening before the holiday is a popular time for people in Virginia and across the country to visit neighborhood bars and to celebrate the holiday. However, more alcohol consumption also leads to increased rates of intoxicated driving collisions. Beyond drunk driving, Thanksgiving driving also poses risks due to drowsy driving (especially for those traveling long distances for the holiday), as well as distracted driving and inclement weather.
Driving Risks During the Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia roads have seen less traffic. Indeed, since more people in Fairfax and throughout the state continue working from home, fewer people are driving to work. In addition, given the continuing pandemic risks, more Virginians are opting to remain home rather than to drive to retail stores for browsing, or to visit nearby friends and family members. Yet as a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety press release underscores, traffic fatalities have actually risen during the pandemic despite the fact that there are fewer motor vehicles on Virginia roads.
Why are car accidents rising? There are many potential reasons, and researchers emphasize that additional research should be conducted on traffic fatalities since April 2020. What we do know, however, is that more drivers are engaging in extreme speeding, drunk driving, and other behaviors that increase the risk of a deadly car crash.
You might be wondering how the decrease in traffic but rise in traffic fatalities will come into play with Thanksgiving travel and car accident risks. We cannot know for certain how Thanksgiving car accident rates will look until the holiday season is upon us. At the same time, it is possible that, if more people do decide to travel in their cars for Thanksgiving, that we will see even more fatal collisions than in recent years. There is no reason to expect that the overall rate of traffic fatalities and risky pandemic-related driving behaviors will cease in time for Thanksgiving. Accordingly, this year’s Thanksgiving holiday could be a particularly dangerous one if you are going to be driving.
Learn More from a Fairfax Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love sustains serious injuries in a holiday car accident, you should seek advice from one of the experienced Fairfax car accident attorneys at our firm. Contact Leary Law today.