In 2013, WBRC reported 11 traffic deaths in Alabama over the Thanksgiving holiday, which is defined as running from Wednesday to Sunday. This was up from five fatalities the year prior. These fatalities occurred in eight accidents that happened in Autauga, Barbour, Crenshaw, Madison, Pickens, Russell, Tallaeda, and Walker counties. Police were investigating the collisions but early indicators suggested at least three of these incidents involved drivers who had consumed alcoholic beverages prior to driving.
In 2014, Alabama.com also reported fatal collisions over the Thanksgiving holiday, including one DUI collision in Montgomery that resulted in two fatalities. This accident was investigated as a DUI homicide. In total, there were six deaths in car accidents during the holiday period.
Finally, in 2015, Alabama.com reported nine deaths in Thanksgiving traffic accidents in the state. These nine fatalities happened in a total of seven crashes which were under investigation. The deaths happened in Escambia, Geneva, Lauderdale, Macon, and Talladega counties. One of the victims was a motorcycle rider.
Why Are Car Accident Risks Higher Over Thanksgiving?
Police collect data on the number of fatal accidents over Thanksgiving weekend because that particular time span always sees more accidents and more deaths compared with non-holiday time periods. More people die and are hurt in car accidents during Thanksgiving weekend not just in Alabama, but nationwide. This trend continues year after year, despite stepped-up police enforcement and despite public education campaigns aimed at making Thanksgiving travel on the roads safer.
Why are there so many more car accident risks during Thanksgiving? There are two primary reasons why the roads become a lot more dangerous at this time of the year. One of the simplest explanations for the high rate of traffic accidents and fatalities is the number of people on the road. AAA Travel reported last year that 46.9 million Americans would be traveling 50 or more miles to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. If there are more people on roads driving for longer distances, this alone is enough to increase the odds of fatal collisions happening in greater numbers.
There is also increased alcohol use. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking days of the entire year, with people going out to bars and parties. The actual Thanksgiving holiday and the Friday and Saturday after it are also days when people celebrate with friends and family and often consume alcohol as they do so. Motorists who choose to drink before getting behind the wheel significantly increase the chances of DUI accidents happening.
Drivers must be aware of the additional Thanksgiving car accident risks and do their part to prevent the rise in serious and fatal accidents that happen each year over the Thanksgiving holiday.