This is the first of a four-part series titled Personal Injuries & Thanksgiving, where we look at the continued disturbing trend of accidents, injuries and fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday. This time is considered to be the beginning of the “holiday season,” and data indicates it is among the most dangerous time of year. According to AAA, 50.9 million people will travel a distance of over 50 miles this year, at least a 3% increase over the prior year. They predict that this will be the largest year for traveling since 2005. Bill Sutherland, AAA's VP of Travel & Publishing, seeks to remind people to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family; however, to also be sure to keep focused on safety. Sutherland says that improvements in the economy and job market seem to be encouraging more travel this holiday season.
Other Modes of Travel
The Thanksgiving holiday period for travel is generally considered to span from November 22 to November 26. Between driving, air, railway and waterway travel, there will be an estimated 1.6 million more people this year. The travel data for this year is as follows:
- Road travel: 89% will travel by automobile at some point, a total of over 40 million.
- Air travel: This represents the mode of travel that will rise the most this year with nearly 4 million people, a 5% increase from last year.
- Trains/Bus: We will see a modest increase of 1.1%, approximately 1.48 million people.
- Car Rental: The average daily car rental rate is forecasted at $70 per day, which is quite high, indicating that demand is strong.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), auto accident fatalities spike on Thanksgiving Day. Many are the result of driving drunk and those not wearing seat belts. The night before Thanksgiving has become a big night of sales for bars. Younger people tend to travel home and meet up with old friends on this night. Very few people usually have to work the following day; therefore, alcohol consumption is heightened. Those planning to consume alcohol that night should make advanced travel arrangements. Those who are hosting friends and family at their homes also need to be responsible and willing to make sure anyone intoxicated has a safe means of traveling home.
This time of year there is less daylight, which reduces visibility, and many regions of the country may begin to experience dangerous winter weather conditions such as snow and ice. It is important to inspect the condition of your windshield wipers and vehicle tires. Increased traffic on the roads along with often monotonous, long highway driving is a combination that can be problematic as well. Driver's should take a moment to be certain that their passengers are wearing seat belts.
The holiday season typically is a time of year where the likelihood of heart attacks rises among those with high blood pressure and/or heart disease. These individuals may have added stress from hosting members of the family and may overindulge in food and drinks. According to Dr. Corey Slovis, Chairman of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Emergency Medicine Department, consuming heavy portions of food and heightened alcohol consumption can be problematic for those with existing conditions. The American Heart Association says that the risk of a heart attack is four times higher after consuming a hefty meal.
Kitchens may become dangerous during the Thanksgiving holiday. Many inexperienced cooks may be rushing to cut potatoes and dice vegetables using sharp knives, or often a dull knife that requires more pressure and increases the potential severity of sliced fingers. Because the preparation of a large Thanksgiving meal may take several hours, often potential fire risks such as ovens and hotplates are left unattended. Poultry, such as turkey, may contain potentially dangerous bacteria that may exist if not thoroughly cooked. In addition, it is critical to properly clean cutting boards and knifes used to prepare uncooked turkey to avoid potential contamination. In recent years, many households have begun deep-frying their turkey, which can be dangerous. The National Fire Protection Association says that fires and severe burns from scalding liquids in deep-fryer accidents account for several fatalities, dozens of injuries, and property damage exceeding $15 million annually.
As you can see, there's a lot statistically that can happen over the holidays. Read the blogs to follow this one for more specific information. For now, be thankful this year that what happens during your holiday festivities is joy and nothing more.