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Black Friday fender benders? The dangers of Thanksgiving travel

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you're probably already thinking about sitting down to carve a turkey with your family and friends. For many, getting to those family and friends involves travel. In fact, Thanksgiving is one of the holidays with the highest amount of traffic and travel, as families prepare to gather in celebration of gratitude and togetherness.

Along with the day itself, this holiday comes with a host of other activities, like the notorious yearly shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday. These days before and after the holiday also involve heavy amounts of driving and travel. All these factors combine to make the week surrounding Thanksgiving an especially risky one when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. So exactly how dangerous is your holiday travel likely to be this year, and is there anything you can do to keep yourself and your family safe?

Fender bender fast facts

Research by an auto insurance company looked at data spanning five years and determined that the week of Thanksgiving consistently shows a major jump in automobile accidents. Using the information gathered, they were able to determine the following averages:

  • Accidents on Black Wednesday increased by 25 percent.
  • Accidents on Thanksgiving night increased by 20 percent.
  • Accidents on Black Friday increased by 34 percent.

Though the national average on Black Wednesday was 25 percent, Texas stood heads and shoulders above other states with a whopping 40 percent increase! Additionally, the Sunday following the Thanksgiving holiday typically has the largest percentage of out-of-state accidents compared to the rest of the days that week, with Texas yet again in the lead. Texas was one of the top five states with drivers most likely to file out-of-state accident claims, and Texas was also one of the top states in which out-of-state accidents were most likely to occur.

Why the increased risk of an accident?

Researchers believe that a large chunk of the accidents around Thanksgiving are due less to the holiday itself and more to the shopping frenzy that takes place shortly thereafter, as a majority of the accident claims filed were parking-lot related and occurred either on Black Friday or the Thanksgiving evening before when many shoppers get a jump on holiday sales. Additional study data led researchers to conclude that the other types of crashes and collisions are related to the increase in traffic caused by holiday travelers.

Thanksgiving travel traffic tips

Given the aforementioned Black Friday shopping frenzy, if you do decide to venture out on Thanksgiving evening or the day after, you may wish to:

  • Avoid parking at the ends of aisles, due to the increased exposure to other vehicles as they turn in or out of lanes.
  • Park farther away from store entrances, as it's less crowded, and a bit of an extra walk is a small price to pay for decreasing the risk of collision.
  • Avoid spaces next to cars that are parked at an angle.

For drivers traveling long distances to spend the holiday with family or friends, there are safer times to be on the road. When possible, you may want to drive home the Monday following Thanksgiving. Since the most popular day for traveling seems to be Sunday, traveling on Monday will decrease your risk of collision by 37 percent! If Monday isn't an option, consider Saturday, as even it is still 17 percent safer than Sunday.

Of course, no matter what day you travel, you can't control the actions of other drivers. If you are seriously injured through the negligence or recklessness of another driver, the good news is that there are professional resources in the San Antonio area who can help support you and advise you of your legal rights and options.

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