Holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration. Instead, for thousands of Pennsylvanians each year, these periods become marred by a car crash. Wrecks are always more common on major holidays, as well as the weekends both before and after the days themselves. This is generally due to more vehicles on the road.
The uptick in crashes is significant enough that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation highlights the holiday periods in its annual report. So which holidays are the most dangerous?
Thanksgiving sees the most crashes
PennDOT considers six major holidays, as well as the pre- and post-holiday weekends, as part of its annual review. All told, there were 13,018 crashes during these times, about 10% of which were related to alcohol. There were also 130 fatalities (40 of which occurred in alcohol-related wrecks).
The holiday periods that saw the highest number of crashes in 2019 were:
- Pre-Thanksgiving – 12.4% of all crashes that occurred during the holidays
- Post-Thanksgiving – 11.1%
- Thanksgiving day – 11%
- Pre-Memorial Day – 8.5%
- Pre-Labor Day – 7.5%
- Post-Memorial Day – 7.3%
- Post-Labor Day – 7%
- Memorial Day – 6.8%
- Labor Day – 6.7%
- Pre-Christmas – 5.7%
- Post-New Years – 3.4%
- Post-Independence Day – 3.3%
- Pre-Independence Day – 3%
- Independence Day – 2.5%
- Christmas – 1.9%
- New Years – 1.9%
While the Thanksgiving holiday period saw the most crashes, it did not have the most fatalities. Of all holiday period traffic deaths, nearly one in every eight occurred on Labor Day, the highest percentage.
Tips for safe holiday driving
With millions of vehicles often on the road during these busy travel times, you can take precautions to try to remain as safe as possible. Some suggestions include:
- Avoid speeding
- Watch for deer (particularly during the colder months)
- Make sure anything on the roof is properly secured
- Keep both hands on the wheel
- Do not allow yourself to become distracted
- Do not drive while under the influence
- For longer trips, be sure to take breaks or trade off driving duties at regular intervals
It is a sad reality, but there will be car crashes during the upcoming holiday periods. Take steps to avoid putting yourself and your family In harm’s way. But, if something unfortunate does occur, know there are ways to hold whoever caused the crash accountable for their actions.