AAA projects 54.3 million people will travel more than 50 miles to celebrate this upcoming Thanksgiving, marking a 4.8% increase over last year. Of the total number, 48.5 million people are expected to travel by car to their destination, placing 2.5 million more vehicles on the road than last year’s record-breaking Thanksgiving travel weekend.
The Thanksgiving holiday period runs from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday following. This year, those dates are November 21st - 25th. During this period, travel times in the nation’s most congested cities may take more than four times as long. Patience, therefore, will be necessary to navigate the roads safely and help prevent causing or being involved in a car accident.
Driving in St. Louis on Thanksgiving Day
Driving in congested cities may take up to four times as long over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period. St. Louis is not one of these cities. In fact, St. Louis is the least congested, traffic-wise, of the 20 largest U.S. cities. This bodes well for travel times but does not necessarily paint an accurate picture of safety.
Looking at the last four years of data available through the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there are an average of 989 fatal car accidents in Missouri every year. Nearly 50,000 people, on average, are injured in motor vehicle accidents in Missouri every year. Many of these on or around major holidays - particularly those that involve increased traffic, alcohol, and long days. Caution, therefore, will be necessary to navigate the roads safely.
Getting There Safely
There will be increased traffic between November 21st and November 25th. During this time, there will also be more motor vehicle accidents - some of which will be fatal, others of which will be serious - making your behavior all the more important during this holiday travel period.
The Thanksgiving weather forecast for St. Louis looks promising and shouldn’t, as of now, pose any additional complications. This removes one obstacle. The others are up to you.
Driving safely is always important. It becomes especially so during times of increased traffic. Remember, even in light traffic cities like St. Louis, there will be thousands of additional motorists to contend with. Give yourself some space and shoot for a minimum distance of two-car-lengths between you and those in front of you. This will give you adequate time to stop in case of sudden braking.
Of course, you won’t know to stop if you are distracted. To avoid this common cause of car accidents, simply:
- Turn your phone off or give it to a passenger for control
- Program GPS before you leave. Have a passenger adjust on the fly if needed
- Do not manipulate onboard electronics, including BlueTooth. These are actually more distracting than handheld cell phones
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke while driving
- Do not read maps or other printed materials while driving
- Do not groom while driving. This includes makeup application, hair brushing, shaving, and anything else that should be done in a bathroom
The long and short of it is this: When driving, just drive. Anything, literally anything else that you are doing places you, your passengers, and everyone on the road at increased risk for injury. In fact, data analyzed by the National Institutes of Health suggests various forms of distraction increase crash risks three to eight times over.
Giving plenty of space and staying focused are good ways to avoid an accident during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. So too are obeying the rules of the road, following signs and signals, and remaining calm while behind the wheel. If you start to get annoyed, pull over and take a break. It is, after all, preferable to get to your celebration alive then get caught up in anger and cause an accident.
Alcohol is a Factor
According to Arrive Alive, alcohol plays a role in 23% of all fatal traffic accidents in Missouri. Around holidays that involve alcohol, like Thanksgiving, risks for drunk driving accidents increase significantly. You can help prevent these accidents by doing one simple thing: refusing to drive after drinking.
Even one drink can impair your ability to drive well and during times of significantly higher traffic, even mild impairment can prove fatal. If you have had a drink, let someone else drive, even if you feel “okay.” A moment’s lapse in judgment during this travel period may be all it takes for you to seriously injure or kill yourself, your passengers, or those in other vehicles.
We are Here for You
If you are injured by an irresponsible driver while heading to or from your Thanksgiving celebration, Brown & Brown can help. Call us at 314-333-3333 in St. Louis or 618-888-8888 in Illinois. We represent victims of serious injury living throughout Missouri and surrounding areas of Southwestern Illinois.