GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s among the busiest travel weekends of the year and for those who are planning to drive over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, it’s important to know the dangers involved.
Brandon Hewitt is an attorney with Michigan Auto Law and he joined us to share some fairly concerning statistics around the Thanksgiving travel weekend. He said total crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday more than doubled in 2021 and, unfortunately, we do not have an explanation as to why.
Thanksgiving holiday (4-day) – Total crashes in Michigan
- 2021 (11/25-28/2021): 4,274 Total crashes
- 2020 (11/26-29/2020): 2,077
- 2019 (11/28-12/1/2019): 2,793
- 2018 (11/22-25/2018): 2,755
- 2017 (11/23-26/2017): 2,567
Thanksgiving holiday (4-day) – Fatal crashes in Michigan
- 2021: 12 fatal crashes (3 were alcohol-related)
- 2020: 16 fatal crashes (4 were alcohol-related)
- 2019: 6 fatal crashes (2 were alcohol-related)
- 2018: 10 fatal crashes (5 were alcohol-related)
- 2017: 11 fatal crashes (6 were alcohol-related)
Hewitt offered safety advice for drivers planning to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday:
- No texting while driving – Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
- No talking on the cellphone – Dialing a phone while driving makes a driver 12 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
- No distractions.
- Keep your speed down – Excessive speed was a factor in 12.7% of all fatal crashes in Michigan in 2021.
- No driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medication.
- No drowsy driving – This could be an issue as people are exhausted from having to put in extra hours at work to take off time for the 4-day holiday weekend. Additionally, because this holiday centers around eating, food coma is a real risk.
- Wear seat belts.
- Be alert to what other vehicles, motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians are doing
- Even when you have the green light, look both ways as you enter the intersection in case someone is running a red light.
- Watch for pedestrians crossing the road you are traveling on or the road you are turning onto.
- Drowsy driving is also a Danger. It can impair a driver as much as drunk driving.
Hewitt said party hosts have a responsibility to keep things safe but also to protect themselves against social host liability. He advised:
- Hire an experienced bartender to serve drinks because he or she will have the training to spot signs of intoxication and the objectivity to “make diligent inquiry” as to whether someone is 21 years of age and, thus, old enough to drink legally.
- Arrange for one or more designated drivers to be available.
- Encourage guests to use Uber or Lyft or call a taxi.
- Stock plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and serve food.
- Determine and announce a party time ending well in advance.
- Do not serve alcohol to minors (and do not allow guests do so.)
- Circulate around your home periodically to make sure minor guests have not snuck off to secretly consume alcohol.
For more information, or to consult with an attorney, visit www.michiganautolaw.com or call 833-411-MICH.
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