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More car accidents in Illinois, nationwide during Thanksgiving

When drivers in Illinois receive their license, they take on additional responsibilities within the law to help keep the roadways safe for all drivers.

However, when the holidays arrive, traveling dangers, including being involved in a car accident, increase significantly because motorists may be focused on other things than driving safely. Often, drivers are on the road for longer periods and at early or late times during holidays and extended weekends. In addition, it is more likely drivers are drowsy or have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Millions of people travel during the holiday season, with 90 percent traveling by roads. Auto Club AAA estimates more than 39 million people will travel at least 50 miles to their Thanksgiving destinations in order to kick off the holiday season this year. According to a university director within the Center for Advanced Public Safety, this means a significant number of crashes are bound to occur.

However, with the number of travelers estimated to decrease by 4 percent this year, the crash statistics may be fewer. Roadway congestion is expected to decrease by 25 percent, as well, according to the traffic firm INRIX. The weather conditions have been relatively mild throughout the Midwest, so road conditions may be better than in other years as well.

After a long day of preparation, food and holiday stress, motorists may be driving home when they are tired, however, which causes dangerous driving conditions. This will be worse if they travel on roads to which they are unfamiliar or if the driver is driving under the influence. Too often, a person has had one too many drinks and driver home after a particularly stressful or enjoyable holiday event. Unfortunately, this means that as much as 40 percent of all fatal crashes that occurred in 2011 involved alcohol.

Thanksgiving is, in fact, one of the federally recognized holidays where fatal crash numbers increase. Driving safely and responsibly can keep everyone on the road safe, but all it takes is one reckless or negligent driver to cause a devastating car accident.

Source: USA Today, "Thanksgiving week one of deadliest on the highway," Larry Copeland, Nov. 18, 2012

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