Drivers reminded to be safe and smart this Thanksgiving holiday

As Memphis area residents gather next week with family and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, many will travel by motor vehicle. Thanksgiving is among one of the busiest travel times of the year and, according to AAA, an estimated 90 percent of U.S. residents who travel this Thanksgiving holiday will do so by car. This means that drivers are almost guaranteed to encounter traffic congestion and other driving challenges while en route to holiday destinations.

When it comes to fatal motor vehicle accidents, Thanksgiving is among the four most-deadly travel holidays in the U.S. This year, AAA estimates that more than 39 million people across the U.S. will travel 50 or more miles by motor vehicle during the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after.

In addition to the driving challenges that accompany having more motor vehicles on the roads, highways and freeways; for much of the nation, inclement weather is also a factor this time of year. Drivers are also more likely to be traveling on unfamiliar roads and during times of reduced daylight hours or at night. Combined, these factors increase the likelihood that a driver may either cause or be involved in a traffic accident.

For many families, enjoying alcoholic beverages is also a part of the annual Thanksgiving ritual. Drinking can become a problem, however, if an individual subsequently gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. During the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents involved drunk drivers.

Drivers who chose to drink and drive endanger not only their own lives, but also those of everyone else with whom they share the road. As Memphis area residents gear up to gather with loved ones to eat, drink and give thanks; it's wise to make arrangements to stay overnight or plan for a sober driver.

Source: USA Today, "Thanksgiving week one of deadliest on the highway," Larry Copeland, Nov. 18, 2014

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