As they do every year, millions of drivers will be travelling throughout California for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And, of course, more drivers mean more dangers on the road.
In many parts of the country—and even in some places throughout California—snowy and icy driving conditions may make for some driving challenges. While some outlying areas of Los Angeles may see frosty and slick roads, the weather is typically not a widespread hazard in Los Angeles at Thanksgiving (or any other time of year). Instead, many motor vehicle accidents in LA will be caused by other dangers.
Many drivers will be heavily fatigued from long drives. Whether from other parts of California or from other states, long drives into Los Angeles can be harrowing especially if the driver is not from the area; the Southland’s freeways can lead to confusion for any driver but especially those unfamiliar with the labyrinth of overpasses, off ramps, and car pool lanes. Additionally, many drivers will be intoxicated. Innumerable accidents over the holiday weekend result in drunk driving catastrophes. For a wide-variety of reasons, Thanksgiving is an extremely hazardous time to be on the road.
USA TODAY recently reported findings from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study. In their most recent study, 431 people were killed nationally on Thanksgiving in 2010. That is more than were killed on any of these other three federal holidays: Veterans Day, Independence Day, and New Year’s Day. Those four federal holidays—including Thanksgiving—have a higher ratio of fatal car accidents than other holidays. For a variety of reasons, Thanksgiving is consistently the deadliest. The reason for this high number of fatal crashes is not altogether clear but simply having more drivers on the road is a definite hazard. Many of those drivers, unfortunately, will be disoriented and unfamiliar with the terrain, many will be exhausted and some will be intoxicated. For too many families, Thanksgiving will mark a day of loss rather than a day of thanks.