What do you think the least safe day of the year is for driving? Many guess New Year’s Eve, and while all-night partying and drinking don’t make for a consistent combination, the day before Thanksgiving poses more risks. Dubbed “Black Wednesday,” that day alone sees 43.4 million people travel at least 50 miles from the hours of 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
According to a new report from Progressive Corporation, this period sees a 17-percent increase for accidents, particularly parking and rear-end collisions. Property damage claims increase 14 percent, as well.
Safety isn’t equal across all roads, however. Certain states have greater risks. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Maryland sees a 61-percent jump in accidents, Oregon 60 percent, Illinois and Iowa 38 percent, and North Carolina 35 percent.
In more recent years, increased gas prices resulted in fewer traveling on the roads, reducing the number of auto accident-related fatalities to 502 in 2008 for that day alone. However, this amount, even with the slight decrease, still exceeds the 102 per day average. The figure, as well, doesn’t take into account the many more non-fatal car accidents.
Several factors make Thanksgiving and the day before a particularly treacherous occasion for travel. Most drive at night, more vehicles end up on the road, and chances of driving drunk increase. As a result, it’s advised that motorists traveling on these days, as well as the weekend home, follow these tips:
1. Try to travel during the day
2. Be prepared for traffic
3. Keep more space between you and the driver in front
4. Be alert to drunk drivers
5. Do not speed or drive distracted
6. Be familiar with the route before you get on the road
7. Take breaks every few hours to stay alert
8. If you go out, always have a designated driver with you
9. If you don’t feel able to drive, call a cab.