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Don't speed to the turkey this Thanksgiving weekend

Most of our San Diego blog readers are probably well aware that the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. And although travel is expected to be slightly down this year from 2011, AAA has projected that nearly 40 million people will travel 50 or more miles from home to celebrate Thanksgiving. The vast majority of those travelers are expected to go by automobile.

As such, it makes sense that traffic safety officials also expect an increase in car accidents over the holiday weekend. When there are more cars, truck and motorcycles on the road, there are more opportunities for those vehicles to collide with one another, potentially causing massive injuries and property damage or even death.

There will be fewer cars on the road this year as compared to last, according to traffic congestion tracking firm INRIX. Specifically, congestion on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is expected to be down by 4 percent as compared to 2011. The drop is due to unemployment, high fuel prices and the economy as a whole.

However, there are many causes other than congestion that are responsible for Thanksgiving weekend car accidents. When people travel for the holiday, they often drive routes that are less familiar to them, or on two-lane or rural roads. Drivers who are unfamiliar with their surroundings are more likely to crash.

In addition, more people drive late at night or after they have been drinking, significantly decreasing their driving ability. And travelers who are late to holiday gatherings tend to drive faster and with more distraction, both things that can increase their crash risk.

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

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