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Crash Stats Paint a Grim Holiday Picture for Some
Date:11/21/2012

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Speeding, alcohol and weather are among the factors that increase the risk of fatal traffic crashes around Thanksgiving, according to a new study.

Although these are common causes of deadly crashes throughout the year, they become even more significant during Thanksgiving week when there are more cars on the road, more drivers on unfamiliar roads, more tired drivers, more distracted drivers and more people attending parties, according to the researchers at the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety.

"With substantially increased traffic volume over a short period, this combination is a recipe for potential disaster," Allen Parrish, center director and a professor of computer science, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues analyzed data on fatal crashes in Alabama during Thanksgiving week 2011, as well as national fatal-crash data from 2005 to 2010. Thanksgiving week is defined as the Monday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after.

Nationally, traffic fatalities averaged nearly 750 per week during the six years included in the study, but Thanksgiving week averaged 50 more deaths. In Alabama, the number of fatal crashes averaged 16 a week in 2011, but rose to 17 during Thanksgiving week.

The study also found that the number of U.S. pedestrian deaths was 11 percent higher during Thanksgiving week than other weeks.

The national data showed that 20 percent more traffic fatalities occurred between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. during Thanksgiving week than during other weeks of the year. In much of the nation, these are not daylight hours.

Thanksgiving Day was the safest travel day in Alabama, but traffic deaths nationwide significantly increased during the 24 hours of Thanksgiving Day. Thirty percent of those deaths occurred in the early morning hours, and it's likely that drunk driving played a role in many of those crashes, the researche
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