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Thanksgiving Marks Highest Spike in Fatal Accidents in Ohio

Traffic backed up on a busy road at night in the rain.

Fatal car accidents in Ohio have become increasingly common in recent years during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a recent traffic safety study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Specifically, the number of fatal car accidents in Ohio on Thanksgiving Day increased by 244 percent compared to the number of car accident fatalities on an average Ohio day in November, according to a recent Akron Beacon Journal article.

How many crashes in Ohio happen on holidays?

Over the past 15 years, November has seen an average of 3.4 fatal car accidents per day in Ohio, as reported by NHTSA accident data. In contrast, Thanksgiving Day in Ohio during the same period recorded an average of 11.7 fatal car accidents per day, marking a 244 percent increase.

To provide context, the discrepancies become even more apparent when comparing these statistics to other annual holidays in Ohio. For instance, the number of fatal car accidents on Christmas Day in Ohio is 222 percent higher than the average number of car accident deaths on a typical December day.

Furthermore, on Labor Day, there is a 121 percent increase in car accident fatalities compared to an average day in September, while Memorial Day only sees a 5 percent rise in car accident deaths compared to an average day in May, as per NHTSA data cited by the Akron Beacon Journal.

What factors contribute to crashes during Thanksgiving?

Traffic safety experts have identified several key factors contributing to the high incidence of fatal car accidents during the Thanksgiving holiday period, including:

  • Drunk driving: One prominent factor is the prevalence of drunk driving, particularly on the night before Thanksgiving, often referred to as "Blackout Wednesday" or "Drinksgiving." This night sees a surge in alcohol consumption as people gather to celebrate, leading to an increased risk of impaired driving. Many individuals who consume alcohol on Wednesday night may later get behind the wheel while still under the influence, resulting in car accidents during the early hours of Thanksgiving morning.
  • Distracted driving: With the prevalence of smartphones and other electronic devices, distracted driving has become a significant concern, especially when more motorists are out on the roads during the holidays. Many drivers may engage in activities like texting, talking on the phone, or using GPS navigation systems while behind the wheel. These distractions divert their attention from the road, impairing their ability to react to potential hazards and increasing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Driver fatigue: Long-distance travel to reach family gatherings on Thanksgiving can lead to driver fatigue. Some individuals embark on extended journeys to visit loved ones, which can result in exhaustion. Fatigued drivers are more prone to falling asleep at the wheel, increasing the likelihood of lane-departure accidents and rear-end collisions, especially during late-night or early-morning travel.
  • Speeding: The Thanksgiving holiday weekend witnesses a significant surge in traffic volume as people travel to spend time with family and friends. This increased congestion on the roads can lead to impatience and reckless driving behaviors. Speeding becomes a common issue as drivers attempt to reach their destinations quickly. The combination of high speeds and crowded roadways elevates the risk of accidents.
  • Road rage: The stress associated with holiday travel can escalate into aggressive driving behaviors, commonly referred to as road rage. Increased traffic, delays, and crowded roads can trigger frustration, leading some drivers to engage in dangerous acts of aggression, such as tailgating, aggressive passing, or confrontations with other motorists. Road rage incidents can escalate quickly and result in severe accidents, adding to the risks during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Safe driving tips for holiday travel

The following safe driving tips can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and help make holiday travel safer:

  • Have a designated driver: If you plan to consume alcohol during Thanksgiving celebrations, arrange for a designated driver in advance. Designating a sober driver ensures that no one who has been drinking gets behind the wheel. This simple step can prevent drunk driving accidents and save lives. Consider using a rideshare or taxi service if you can't have a designated driver.
  • Avoid driver fatigue: Long-distance travel can lead to driver fatigue, which impairs reaction times and decision-making abilities. If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over to a safe location and take a short break. A brief rest can help refresh your alertness and prevent fatigue-related accidents.
  • Plan ahead: To avoid heavy Thanksgiving traffic, consider adjusting your travel schedule. Leave for your destination earlier or later than the peak travel times to reduce congestion on the roads. This can result in a more relaxed and less stressful journey.
  • Watch your speed: Adhering to speed limits and driving at a safe, reasonable speed for road conditions is crucial. Speeding significantly increases the severity of accidents and reduces the time available to react to unexpected situations. Staying within speed limits helps ensure everyone's safety on the road.
  • Don't tailgate: Maintain an adequate following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This provides ample reaction time and space to stop or maneuver safely in the event of sudden stops or emergencies. Keep in mind that wet or slippery roads may require an even greater following distance.
  • Stay focused: Distractions, such as texting, phone calls, or adjusting in-car entertainment systems, divert your attention from driving. Stay focused on the road and keep distractions to a minimum. Utilize hands-free devices if necessary to make phone calls or navigate while driving.
  • Buckle up: Ensure that all passengers in your vehicle are wearing seat belts at all times. Seat belts are one of the most effective safety measures to protect occupants in the event of a collision.

While implementing these safety measures significantly reduces the risk of accidents, it's important to acknowledge that crashes can still occur. If you or a loved one was injured by a reckless or negligent driver, having an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer by your side is essential. An attorney can assist you in navigating the legal process, advocating for your rights, and helping you secure the compensation you may be entitled to following a car crash.

Contact Gervelis Law Firm if you've been injured

At Gervelis Law Firm in Ohio, our car accident attorneys are dedicated to ensuring your rights are protected and that you receive the support you need in the aftermath of a crash. We are committed to helping you seek the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.

When you choose our law firm, you're choosing experienced and compassionate attorneys who will guide you through the legal process and fight to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Tell them you mean business. Contact us today for a free consultation. We have five offices conveniently located throughout Ohio, including offices in Columbus and Toledo.

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