You’ll probably spend a few hours in the car over your Thanksgiving holiday.  Unfortunately, you’re likely to share the road with drivers who are tired, distracted, intoxicated, or all three, especially later in the evening when people are returning from parties and family gatherings.  But how much danger are you really in?  And how do other holidays compare?  Philadelphia car accident lawyer Brent Wieand looks at recent PennDOT data to find out how many crashes occurred on Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania last year.

Thanksgiving Car Accident Statistics: Fatal Crashes in Pennsylvania

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Thanksgiving is associated with heavy travel, but you might be surprised at just how much.  According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the amount of long-distance travel increases by a staggering 54% during Thanksgiving, and most of it – more than 90% – is by car.  That means you can expect clogged roads, aggressive drivers, and, unfortunately, a sharp uptick in automotive accidents.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), there were 127,127 auto accidents in 2015, leading to nearly 67,000 instances of property damage, more than 80,000 injuries, and, sadly, exactly 1,200 deaths.  The question is, how much did Thanksgiving travel contribute to these figures?

PennDOT statistics show that there were 4,634 crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2015.  However, only about 31% of these crashes (1,428) took place on Thanksgiving Day itself, with similar numbers reported during the days before and after Thanksgiving.  About 37% of the accidents (1,719) occurred during the days leading up to Thanksgiving, while the remaining 32% (1,487) took place over the post-holiday weekend.

Tragically, Pennsylvania Thanksgiving accidents also claimed the lives of 51 people in 2015.  However, the distribution of fatalities was different than the distribution of crashes.  While the greatest number of accidents happened in the days before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day itself had the highest number of fatalities, accounting for 21 out of the 51 deaths during the holiday period.  About half as many deaths (13) occurred over the post-Thanksgiving period, with an additional 17 fatalities reported before Thanksgiving Day.

PennDOT does not report on non-fatal injuries caused by Thanksgiving accidents, which makes it impossible to say how many injuries Thanksgiving accounts for.  However, by comparing Thanksgiving fatalities against overall fatalities, it’s possible to calculate that Thanksgiving accidents were responsible for about 4.3% of the total accident fatalities reported in 2015.  That may seem like a small number, but for a holiday that consumes less than a week of the year, it’s a significant figure.

Which Holiday is the Most Dangerous for Driving?

Now that we know how Thanksgiving travel fits into Pennsylvania’s car accident statistics, the next question is, how does Thanksgiving compare to other holidays?

Here is how PennDOT ranked each holiday, based on total percentage of crashes they caused, in 2015:

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When holidays were ranked according to total percentage of fatalities they caused, the order shuffled slightly:

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As you can see, the graphs above reflect only percentages.  Here are the actual numbers of crashes per holiday in 2015:

  1. New Year’s – 726 crashes
  2. Christmas – 2,176 crashes
  3. Labor Day – 2,882 crashes
  4. Memorial Day – 3,082 crashes
  5. Fourth of July – 3,104 crashes
  6. Thanksgiving – 4,634 crashes

And here were the total numbers of fatalities per holiday the same year:

  1. New Year’s – 4 fatalities
  2. Christmas – 25 fatalities
  3. Labor Day – 32 fatalities
  4. Fourth of July – 42 fatalities
  5. Memorial Day – 47 fatalities
  6. Thanksgiving – 51 fatalities

The statistics don’t lie.  Whether it’s the number of crashes, the number of fatalities, or the percentage of crashes, by nearly every metric Thanksgiving is the most dangerous holiday for car accidents (at least in Pennsylvania).  Only time will tell how Thanksgiving 2016 compares to previous years, but hopefully, there will be fewer accidents and fatalities than there were last holiday season.  You can play your part by making sure you are well-rested and sober before you get behind the wheel.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer if You Were in an Auto Accident on Thanksgiving

From the Wieand Law Firm, LLC, we’d like to wish you and your loved ones a very safe and happy holiday season.  But if the worst occurs, and you or one of your family members is hurt in a car accident over the Thanksgiving holiday, know that you can turn to Wieand Law for legal assistance and aggressive representation.

As a Philadelphia truck accident attorney, Brent Wieand has extensive experience handling auto accident claims on behalf of injured drivers and passengers.  He may be able to help you get compensated for your medical expenses, your pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from your accident.  Wieand Law also handles claims arising from motorcycle accidents, drunk driving accidents, and other types of vehicular accidents.

Though based in Philadelphia, Brent Wieand proudly serves communities throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  To talk about your car accident claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206 today.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.