The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Thanksgiving Road Deaths Expected to Rise

November 17, 2017

Photo by Mlaurenti/Wikipedia.
Photo by Mlaurenti/Wikipedia.

An analysis from the National Safety Council concludes that an estimated 421 people could be killed and another 48,500 seriously injured in car crashes during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period.

The estimate is 7% higher than the average number of deaths — 393 — for that weekend, the National Safety Council (NSC) said. The Thanksgiving Day holiday begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26.

Historical trends show that on average, more than one-third of Thanksgiving Day holiday period fatalities involve alcohol-impaired drivers. Since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known for its high volume of both travel and alcohol consumption, the council is warning drivers to be particularly vigilant at the start of the holiday period.

"While many of us are putting together grocery lists and travel plans for Thanksgiving, we can't forget that long holiday weekends are particularly deadly on the roads,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “If you plan to celebrate, make smart decisions and commit to having a driver that is not impaired by alcohol or drugs behind the wheel. This Thanksgiving, let’s ensure everyone in every family arrives home safely.”

With preventable deaths at an all-time high, NSC has called for states to take actions to reduce safety risks —particularly on the roads. The NSC State of Safety report encourages states to institute state sobriety checkpoints, require ignition interlocks for first-time and repeat offenders, ban open containers, and automatically revoke licenses for more than 90 days for drivers with BAC levels above .08 or those who refuse to test.

Alcohol impairment, of course, isn’t the only safety threat to drivers. Distracted driving is rampant — even in parking lots, which will be jammed with Black Friday shoppers. A National Safety Council poll conducted last year found two-thirds of drivers — 66% — would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot and 56% would text. 

The council offers these safety tips for drivers:

  • Remember, drugged driving is impaired driving. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org to learn about the scope of the prescription opioid crisis.
  • Buckle up on every trip in every seating position.
  • Make sure children are properly restrained in the appropriate seats for their height, weight and age.
  • Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
  • If you're the parent of a teen driver, download the New Driver Deal at DriveitHOME.org.
  • Learn about your vehicle's safety systems and how to use them at MyCarDoesWhat.org.
  • Check your vehicle for recalls at ChecktoProtect.org

Supplemental traffic fatality estimates information can be found here

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