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Thanksgiving has been Most Dangerous Day to Drive

Published Monday Nov 13, 2023

Author David Brooks, Concord Monitor

Thanksgiving has been Most Dangerous Day to Drive

An analysis of national car crashes shows that driving on Black Friday, the shopping day after Thanksgiving, is safer than any other time in November but driving on Thanksgiving itself is much more dangerous.

Ohio personal injury lawyer John Fitch analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on fatal motor vehicle crashes over a 15-year span and found an average of 93 fatal crashes occurred on that day, compared to the daily average for November of 109 fatal crashes, a reduction of 15%.

This is in sharp contrast to Thanksgiving, which sees a significant rise in road deaths. The holiday saw an average of 405 fatal crashes, almost three times the figure for the rest of the month. In fact, Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest days of the year on American highways.

New Hampshire State Police regularly caution drivers about being extra careful on the road around Thanksgiving, which is one of the most heavily traveled weekends of the year.

Most U.S. holidays see a rise in fatal accidents compared to the rest of the month they're in. Thanksgiving is the deadliest, followed by Memorial Day, which sees fatalities rise 259% compared to the rest of May, according to Fitch's analysis, then Fourth of July with an increase of 227%, then Christmas and Labor Day, each of which sees almost twice as many fatal accidents as happen during the rest of their month.

Perhaps surprisingly, New Year's Eve is the safest holiday: Fatal accidents over the period studied were actually 16 percent lower than the rest of December, according to Fitch's analysis. New Year's Day, however, was more dangerous, which may reflect accidents happening post-midnight after people leave a New Year's party.

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