Last year, according to Louisiana’s Highway Safety Research Group (HSRG), there were 564 traffic crashes on Louisiana roads during the Thanksgiving holiday period. The holiday period began at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve and went through midnight of the following Monday. Out of those traffic crashes, nearly 11 percent were in Calcasieu and Lafayette Parish. These numbers do not reflect commercial vehicle crashes. Why are the roads so dangerous during this time of year?
Reason #1: Traffic Congestion
With millions of people on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday, there is more traffic congestion. An increase in traffic could cause a higher risk for accidents. In addition, many people traveling during Thanksgiving will be driving on unfamiliar roads. Traffic congestion along with unsafe driving behaviors such as distracted driving or aggressive driving could cause more traffic accidents.
Reason #2: Speeding
Thanksgiving is on a week day. Many people have to work the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so trying to get to a destination in a short period of time could contribute to an increase in speeding. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding in high traffic areas often occurs due to aggressive driving. When people have a goal to get somewhere and are running late, frustration builds and can become dangerous.
Speeding is especially dangerous because it takes longer for a vehicle to stop. Speeding can also make it more difficult to control a vehicle.
Reason #3: Distracted Driving
Holiday driving has its own distractions. While people may be used to driving alone on any regular day, during Thanksgiving travel, they could have a vehicle full of passengers. Passengers are a large contributor to distracted driving. Conversations with passengers could cause the driver to lose focus of the road and their surroundings. In a car full of children, a long trip could cause them unrest without entertainment and in turn, distraction for the driver.
On unfamiliar roads, looking at a GPS device to navigate or look up directions is especially dangerous. Even a couple of seconds with your eyes away from the road could cause an accident.
Louisiana does have a statewide ban on using wireless devices for texting or accessing social media while driving. It is legal to talk on the phone while driving, but be aware that it is a form of distracted driving too. Just like conversing with passengers, a phone conversation could cause a driver to become less engaged with safe driving.
Reason #4: Drowsy Driving
Many drivers try to avoid heavy traffic by driving either early in the morning or late at night. Drivers may be driving when they are usually asleep, which could cause drowsy driving. In addition, people may be driving after work on Thanksgiving Eve to make it to their destinations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. While 0.05 does not surpass the legal limit, depending on a person’s size, it could be comparable to having two or three glasses of wine before driving.
In addition, due to the end of Daylight Saving Time, the days are shorter. Driving in the dark could cause drowsy driving and reduced visibility, especially in poor weather conditions.
Reason #5: Drunk Driving
Unfortunately, the holidays are associated with a peak in drunk driving. Thanksgiving Eve has garnered a reputation as Blackout Wednesday, one of the busiest nights of the year for bars. Without a safe way home, many people drive drunk. In addition, drinking is common on Thanksgiving and through the weekend too.
During Thanksgiving of 2017, more than nine percent of Louisiana’s traffic crashes involved alcohol. The Saturday after Thanksgiving saw the most drunk driving accidents. Alcohol impairs motor skills, vision and judgment. Driving drunk is also illegal. A first-time DUI offense in Louisiana could result in a 90-day license suspension.
According to the Louisiana State Police (LSP), if you come across hazardous road conditions or reckless drivers during your travels, ask your passenger to report roadway emergencies by dialing *577 on their phone. If you do not have a passenger, you should safely pull off the road before making the call.
Need a Lafayette Car Accident Attorney?
If you have been injured in a car accident in Lafayette or Lake Charles, Louisiana, we recommend that you contact a Louisiana car accident attorney as soon as possible. You could have a viable claim to recover compensation for injuries and damages.
At Galloway Jefcoat, LLP Attorneys at Law, we represent the injured in a variety of personal injury cases. Contact our Lafayette office at (337) 984-8020 or our Lake Charles office at (337) 888-4357 to schedule a free initial consultation. You can also fill out our online form for a free case evaluation. Happy Thanksgiving!