Thanksgiving Safe Driving Warnings

The National Safety Council estimates 421 people may be killed and another 48,500 may be seriously injured in car crashes during the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday period.i The estimate is 7 percent higher than the average number of deaths – 393 – for that weekend.ii The Thanksgiving Day holiday begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22 and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26.

 Historical trends show that on average, more than one-third of Thanksgiving Day holiday period fatalities involve alcohol-impaired drivers. Since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known for its high volumes of both travel and alcohol consumption, the Council is warning drivers to be particularly vigilant at the start of the holiday period. Research shows impairment begins with the first drink.

“While many of us are putting together grocery lists and travel plans for Thanksgiving, we can’t forget that long holiday weekends are particularly deadly on the roads,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “If you plan to celebrate, make smart decisions and commit to having a driver that is not impaired by alcohol or drugs behind the wheel. This Thanksgiving, let’s ensure everyone in every family arrives home safely.”

With preventable deaths at an all-time high, the Council has called for states to take actions to reduce residents’ risks – particularly when it comes to safety on the roads. The NSC State of Safety report encourages states to institute state sobriety checkpoints, require ignition interlocks for first-time and repeat offenders, ban open containers, and automatically revoking licenses for more than 90 days for drivers with BAC levels above .08 or those who refuse to test.

Alcohol impairment is not the only safety threat to drivers. Distracted driving is rampant – even in parking lots, which will be jammed with Black Friday shoppers. A National Safety Council poll conducted last year found two-thirds of drivers – 66 percent – would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot and 56 percent would text.

Additional tips for safe travel include:

  • Drugged driving is impaired driving, too. Visit to learn about the scope of the prescription opioid crisis.
  • Buckle up on every trip in every seating position
  • Make sure children are properly restrained in the appropriate seats for their height, weight and age
  • Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
  • Sign a New Driver Deal with teen drivers at
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them at
  • Check your vehicle for recalls at

Supplemental traffic fatality estimates information can be found here.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council ( is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.