The National Safety Council is estimating the number of fatalities from car crashes will increase by as much as 7 percent this year over Thanksgiving weekend. As many as 421 people may be killed and another 48,500 may be seriously injured in car crashes during the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22 and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26.
“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 Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “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.”
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 volumes of both travel and alcohol consumption, the council is warning drivers to be particularly vigilant at the start of the holiday period. Research shows impairment begins with the first drink.
With preventable deaths at an all-time high, the NSC has called for states to take action to reduce residents’ risks – particularly when it comes to safety 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 revoking licenses for more than 90 days for drivers with BAC levels above .08 or those who refuse to test.
Alcohol impairment is not the only safety threat to drivers. Distracted driving – even in parking lots, which will be jammed with Black Friday shoppers – causes injury-causing and fatal crashes. A NSC poll conducted last year found two-thirds of drivers – 66 percent – would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot and 56 percent would text.