Thanksgiving and Christmas Are Peak Car Crash Holidays

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The holidays should be a joyous time, but for hundreds of families each year, they are ruined by tragic motor vehicle crashes. Adding to that grief is the yearly reminder of beloved family members who died on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. It’s sad to contemplate, but necessary if you want your family to be safe to gather for the holidays for years to come.

The winter holidays are peak times for fatal car crashes for a number of reasons. Inclement weather makes roads more hazardous and drivers tend to consume alcohol at festivities that run late into the evening, requiring revelers to drive in the dark, often on unfamiliar roads. However, for all the risks of driving during the winter holidays, summer holidays can be even more dangerous, because of alcohol consumption, fatigue after a long day, and driving while the sun is producing inordinate glare.

Yet, when we looked at crash statistics for North Carolina in the years 2008 to 2013, we were surprised to see which annual holiday ranked as most dangerous:

  • Easter — 91 fatalities over a four-day span or 22.75 deaths per day
  • Fourth of July — 62 deaths over a three-day span or 20.6 deaths per day
  • New Year’s — 35 fatalities over a two-day span or 17.5 deaths per day
  • Memorial Day — 67 deaths over a four-day span or 16.75 deaths per day
  • Thanksgiving — 77 fatalities over a five-day span or 15.4 deaths per day
  • Labor Day — 64 deaths over a four-day span or 15.1 deaths per day
  • Christmas — 57 fatalities over a five-day span or 11.4 deaths per day

We were surprised to see Easter so high on the list and Christmas so low, but then we got to thinking about the differences between the two holidays. Easter is invariably on a Sunday, and people generally have to go to work the next day. If they are visiting family, they are likely to celebrate and drive home the same day. That means driving after having consumed alcohol (a factor in anywhere from 29 percent to 50 percent of fatal Easter crashes) or when they are tired from a long day. On the other hand, family visits at Christmas often extend beyond the day itself. Drivers may be better rested and less likely to have been drinking.

How should you stay safe during the holidays? Clearly, you don’t want to drive when you’ve been drinking or you’re worn out, and you don’t want to be on the road late at night when the tipsy, drowsy drivers are out.

If you are injured in an auto accident in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban P.C. is ready to put more than 175 years of combined legal experience to work for you. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation

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