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Holiday season signals a spike in number of traffic fatalities

In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is once again urging motorists to stay safe on Thanksgiving Day, and drivers in Virginia may want to take note. Thanksgiving may be the nation's deadliest holiday, and the blame may lie mostly on the increased number of traffic accidents occurring at this time of year.

As doctors in the U.S. have recognized for some time, mortality rates are highest from Thanksgiving through the winter months, and available NHTSA data supports this claim. Although nearly 50,000 non-fatal crashes were reported during Thanksgiving 2012, 764 fatal car accidents also occurred. The number of fatal crashes during Christmas that year was slightly lower with 654 deadly incidents reportedly taking place. Statistics indicate that 60 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts when the accident occurred. At least 40 percent of the fatal collisions involved drunk driving. NHTSA officials believe that many of these fatalities were preventable.

Officials are suggesting that motorists whose plans include travel over the Thanksgiving holiday may want to take a few simple precautions. Drivers are advised to ensure that windshield wipers are working correctly and that tires are properly inflated before venturing out in what is often heavy weather in some parts of the country.

Because there is no excuse for drunk driving, penalties for doing so are especially stringent. However, the criminal justice system does little to mitigate the loss suffered by passengers and other drivers who have been seriously injured or killed as a result. In Virginia, a motorist who is hurt in a car accident due to the negligence of another party may find it beneficial to pursue justice in civil court. In some situations, a personal injury attorney may be able to pursue financial compensation on behalf of a client at the negotiating table or through litigation.

Source: Forbes, "The U.S. Death Rate Spikes On Thanksgiving. Here's Why.", Dan Diamond, Nov. 26, 2014

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