Nearly 48,000 car crashes this Thanksgiving holiday, NSC estimates

More than 40,000 people over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend will be involved in a car wreck that requires medical treatment, according to the National Safety Council.

In less than a week, millions of families will pack into their cars to meet up with loved ones in the annual Thanksgiving celebration. But unfortunately, thousands of people will experience an accident before they reach their intended destination.

It's estimated that 44,700 injuries requiring medical attention will take place over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, all of them resulting from car crashes, according to the National Safety Council. Tragically, some of these collisions will be deadly, potentially causing 418 traffic fatalities. Last year, NSC predicted there'd be 451 roadway deaths, with the actual total being 405.

"Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year."

Deborah Hersman, NSC CEO and president, indicated that no matter how long Americans intend to travel for Thanksgiving dinner, they should make getting there safely a top priority. 

"A hallmark of Thanksgiving is traveling to be with family and friends, but whether it involves a short drive or a long road trip, the same risks apply," said Hersman. "Sensible precautions can make the difference between a safe visit home or an unwelcome trip to the emergency room."

NSC offered the following tips that can help keep everyone safe on the roads during what is typically the busiest travel period of the year:

  • Fasten your seat belt. It ought to go without saying, but buckling up serves as the first line of defense after an accident, and has been responsible for sparing the lives of millions of people since seat belts became mandatory. NSC estimates that 153 lives will be saved over Thanksgiving weekend thanks to people strapping themselves in.
  • Leave mobile devices to passengers. Cell phones and tablets can help pass the time on a long-distance Thanksgiving trip, but the only people that should be using them are those who aren't driving. Motorists are urged to turn off their devices or have them in silent mode to avoid becoming distracted.
  • Be mindful of weather. Though the snowy season usually doesn't come around until mid-December, late November can bring slippery conditions, manifested by snow squalls, black ice, and freezing rain. Travelers are advised to always drive defensively to avoid an accident that may lead to an auto insurance claim.

Nothing can ruin a Thanksgiving meal quite like a car accident, especially if it's the first one that people have experienced. No matter how minor, crashes can leave nerves frayed and tempers short, making it difficult to take the proper measures when its needed most. The Insurance Information Institute recently released a list of recommendations that motorists should take if a collision transpires.

  • Survey the damage. The first thing to do after a crash is determine if any damage has been done. So long as it's safe to do so, pull the car to the side of the road to see the extent of the damage. Motorists should also make a self-assessment to ensure that they haven't been injured.
  • Alert authorities. Local law enforcement should be the first individuals spoken to after a car crash, especially if there's been an injury. Typically, police officers or emergency officials will come to the scene of the accident, where an official incident report will be filed.
  • Be prepared for their arrival. Police on the scene will want to know as much information as possible about how the incident came about. In addition to providing them with this, they will also want to know the make and model of the cars involved, license and registration information, as well as if there were any witnesses. Insurers will also want to have this data for when a claim is filed.

Be sure to visit III's website for other steps to take after an accident.