A study of Thanksgiving Week vehicle crash data from the past five years in Alabama shows travel after dark increases the risk for crashes and fatalities.
The study, done by the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety in partnership with the Alabama Transportation Institute, shows the rationale behind the recommendation to avoid traveling after dark during Thanksgiving week.
What the Study Shows
The study has found that fatal crashes in darkness are more than three times likely than during the day especially the week of Thanksgiving. These crashes in the darkness are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and driving too fast for night conditions, researchers say. The delayed response of first responders at night in rural areas is a factor leading to the increase in fatal crashes, the study shows.
The study employed the Critical Analysis Reporting Environment (CARE), which is a software analysis system developed by CAPS research and personnel to mine information from the databases. Researchers said they started by looking at the causes for all crashes during past Thanksgiving weeks in 2016 through 2020. They quickly noted that a comparison between crashes in darkness and those during daylight might help generate useful information.
The amount of darkness during Thanksgiving week increased not only because the month is late in the year, but also because of the end of daylight saving time the first week of November. In addition to this risk, driving while impaired is more common at night and is another reason for there being 70% more crashes after dark. In addition, fatigued driving is also more common at night with fatigue and drowsiness listed as occurring 60% more in darkness than during the day over the holiday weeks.
Drivers Should Be Cautious
Throughout the holiday season, there is an increased risk on our roadways, particularly this year, as more people plan to attend gatherings as COVID fears are eased. Here are a few tips to stay safe on the road:
- Travel during daylight hours as much as possible.
- Never drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication.
- Do not drive when you are fatigued or sleepy.
- Always wear your seatbelt, even if you are driving a short distance to the store or to a friend’s house.
We hope you and yours have a safe and happy Thanksgiving week!