Be sure to buckle up this Thanksgiving–now more than ever. A recent study by the Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety reveals that automobile accidents around Thanksgiving are increasing. The trouble is, Thanksgiving is already a precarious time on the road, with crashes due to deer, alcohol and bad weather more prevalent during Thanksgiving weekend than any other time of the year.
Thanksgiving car accidents rose 22 percent between 2009 and 2013. Over the past five years, there has been a total of 83 people killed in auto accidents during Thanksgiving week in Alabama alone. Two-thirds of the fatalities who were actually in a vehicle (i.e., not on foot or riding a bike) were not wearing seat belts.
2013 saw 2,482 accidents on Alabama roads. This year, researchers predict numbers far beyond 2,500. This is due to economic improvement and low fuel prices.
Why November is the Most Dangerous Month of the Year
Thanksgiving boasts three “party days”–Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These are all days when the motto “Eat, drink and be merry” takes on new meaning, as there seems to be no restriction to the amount of alcohol consumed. After all, work is far off in the hazy, distant future.
The trouble with this is that it often leads to drinking and driving. Whether leaving a party or heading to the grocery store for a few items, it is easy to come up with a long list of excuses including, “I’ve only had a few drinks,” “I know how to hold my liquor,” “I’m just going a few blocks” and “I just drank a ton of water.” Yet it only takes one time, and you suffer a lifetime of devastating consequences.
November also presents a number of dangerous driving conditions that may not be present any other time of the year. As November is a rather dry month, oil, leaves and other debris may accumulate on the road. When the fall rain comes at the end of the month, the roads become deceptively slippery. Coupled with a “few drinks,” the results can be fatal.
Tips to Stay Safe This Thanksgiving
While the thought of three days of revelry are appealing, overdoing it on alcohol or drinking irresponsibly could lead you to regret it for the rest of your life. Having a good time does not always have to involve alcohol. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe this Thanksgiving:
- Do not drink and drive, and do not get in the car with anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This includes prescription pain killers, as they all slow reaction time and hinder perception.
- Be particularly cautious on the road, even when sober. Always buckle up and make sure your passengers do as well–even if you are only making a short trip.
- Never text and drive or use any form of media distraction. One glance at your cell phone could mean the lives of you and your passengers if there are dangerous drivers on the road.
- Be especially cautious during bad weather, and do not be afraid to stay in of conditions seem too dangerous. A number of weather studies show that accident frequency increases by at least 40 percent when the roads are wet.
- Do not speed. Even a ten-mile-per-hour speed reduction cuts your chances of death in half.
- Watch out for areas that are newly paved or widened, as this could mean deer herds, which are another major cause of accidents. Drive slowly through these areas, especially at night.