-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Speeding, alcohol and
weather are among the factors that increase the risk of fatal
traffic crashes around Thanksgiving, according to a new study.
Although these are common causes of deadly crashes throughout
the year, they become even more significant during Thanksgiving
week when there are more cars on the road, more drivers on
unfamiliar roads, more tired drivers, more distracted drivers and
more people attending parties, according to the researchers at the
University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety.
"With substantially increased traffic volume over a short period, this combination is a recipe for potential disaster," Allen Parrish, center director and a professor of computer science, said in a university news release.
He and his colleagues analyzed data on fatal crashes in Alabama
during Thanksgiving week 2011, as well as national fatal-crash data
from 2005 to 2010. Thanksgiving week is defined as the Monday
before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after.
Nationally, traffic fatalities averaged nearly 750 per week
during the six years included in the study, but Thanksgiving week
averaged 50 more deaths. In Alabama, the number of fatal crashes
averaged 16 a week in 2011, but rose to 17 during Thanksgiving
The study also found that the number of U.S. pedestrian deaths
was 11 percent higher during Thanksgiving week than other
The national data showed that 20 percent more traffic fatalities
occurred between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. during Thanksgiving week than
during other weeks of the year. In much of the nation, these are
not daylight hours.
Thanksgiving Day was the safest travel day in Alabama, but
traffic deaths nationwide significantly increased during the 24
hours of Thanksgiving Day. Thirty percent of those deaths occurred
in the early morning hours, and it's likely that drunk driving
played a role in many of those crashes, the researchers said.
There was good news in the study. Nationally, the number of
traffic deaths fell 25 percent between 2005 and 2010, and fatal
crashes during Thanksgiving week decreased by almost 31
In Alabama last year, speed was twice as likely to be listed as
the primary factor in crashes during Thanksgiving week as in other
weeks of the year. The report also found that drunk driving
accounted for at least six of the 17 fatal crashes during
Thanksgiving week. Weather also played a role, with 67 percent of
Thanksgiving week crashes occurring in rain or on wet roads.
The number of collisions with deer in Alabama was 25 percent
higher during Thanksgiving week than during other weeks of the
The researchers also offered some Thanksgiving driving safety
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more
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