While getting behind the wheel of a vehicle can be dangerous at any time of year, the Texas Department of Transportation reports fatal crashes along Texas interstates are highest during the months of July, November, and December. USA Today’s “Most Dangerous Holidays” list puts Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s among the top six deadliest holidays for motor vehicle accidents.
Number one, two and four on the Most Dangerous Holidays list are holidays that are traditionally celebrated over a long weekend: Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, respectively. Even with just one extra day away from work, people have more of an opportunity to travel, as well as spend time drinking at parties, picnics and other types of celebrations.
Thanksgiving is number three on the Most Dangerous Holidays list. Each year approximately 15 percent of all motor vehicle accidents during the month of November occur right around the Thanksgiving holiday. In 2013, more than 430 people lost their lives across the country in vehicle-related accidents on Thanksgiving Day.
As Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, many college students and others coming home for the holidays use “Blackout Wednesday” as an opportunity to spend the night out before Thanksgiving drinking with friends. With no exams, work or obligations the following day, other than Thanksgiving dinner with family, binge drinking at this time of the year has become common. It is for this reason Thanksgiving Day is the third deadliest holiday for motor vehicle accidents.
New Year’s Day
For many, New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration that does not end when the clock strikes midnight. As a result of the volume of alcohol traditionally consumed on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day places fifth on the list of the deadliest holidays for motor vehicle accidents. As reported by USA Today, alcohol contributed close to 50 percent of all vehicle-related fatalities occurring during the 2010 New Year’s travel period. In 2012, 348 people lost their lives in traffic accidents on New Year’s Day. The day of the week on which New Year’s Day falls each year significantly affects the number of alcohol-related accidents.
Rounding off USA Today’s “Most Dangerous Holidays” list is Christmas Day. In 2012, there were 351 fatalities between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. One of the primary reasons this holiday makes the list of the most dangerous holidays to drive is that so many Americans travel to spend time with family and friends. AAA estimated last year’s year-end holiday travels would increase to 94.5 million travelers, with 91 percent of those traveling by automobile. This year does not show any signs of slowing. Heavily packed roads and winter weather conditions make for a potentially deadly combination.
Why Motor Vehicle Accidents Spike During the Holidays
Holidays, particularly those towards the end of the year, are known for get-togethers with family and friends. Motor vehicle accidents spike during the holidays in part because alcohol consumption is generally higher than other times of the year. Other factors that contribute to the rise in motor vehicle accidents during the fall and winter holiday season are poor weather conditions and an increase of vehicles on the road.
Ways to minimize your chances of being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident during the busy holiday season include:
- Wearing a seat belt
- Appointing a designated driver when going out to parties or other celebrations
- Taking the weather into account before traveling
- Giving yourself sufficient time to get to and from your intended destination
- Avoiding driver distractions