On Sunday, November 19, a 4-year-old Cedar City girl was killed in a fatal crash on Sunday in Nevada on I-15 near Valley of Fire State Park around 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Her family, including three siblings, was driving back to Cedar City when a semi-truck made an illegal left turn across oncoming traffic. The family’s minivan struck the side of the truck and went under the undercarriage—crushing the passenger compartment. The accident serves as a sobering reminder that we are leading into what is the deadliest weekend to travel in the U.S. each year.
In fact, Thanksgiving weekend (Wednesday through early Monday morning) has 25% more fatal accidents than any other U.S. holiday weekend. Forecasts show that approximately 50 million Americans will fill travel at least 50 miles from home over the upcoming holiday weekend. The forecast anticipates a 3.3 percent increase from 2016—adding nearly 2 million more Americans to the nation’s roads, skies, rails, and waterways. Adding to the dangerous increase in drivers is the fact that Thanksgiving weekend, each year, accounts for a substantial number of DUIs nationally—some years even surpassing New Year’s Eve.
Combining the increased numbers of Americans on the road with the increase of alcohol-related fatalities that occur every Thanksgiving weekend, experts suggest, make Thanksgiving the deadliest holidays on U.S. roads each year. In fact, according to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation report, “…from 2012 to 2016, over 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period.” So what measures can you take to avoid danger this holiday weekend?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in its recent social media campaign, “Make It to the Table: Don’t Drink and Drive this Thanksgiving Eve,” provides several helpful tips to stay safe this holiday weekend by encouraging Americans to:
- Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the first drink;
- Use public transportation, a taxi, or a ride share service;
- Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on both Google Play and Apple’s iTunes Store (SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying the user’s location);
- Report drunk driving to local law enforcement; and
- To always wear your seat belt.
While the statistics show that Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest weekends to travel, there are easy ways you can stay safe this holiday weekend. Drivers cognizant of the statistics can help ensure the roads are safe this Thanksgiving by avoiding the roads at night, drinking responsibly, and reporting drunk drivers to local authorities.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.